Fremont is Seattle’s quirkiest neighborhood. Or, at least it was and still tries to maintain that image as best it can. What was once a haven for free thinkers, artists and those that just didn’t fit in elsewhere has become the opposite—a place where dance clubs have dress codes and people come to work at large corporations. The neighborhood, which once declared itself both ‘the People’s Republic of Fremont’ and ‘the Center of the Universe’ has changed a lot in recent years, from hippie hideaway to corporate headquarters, but it retains its pull to draw in Seattleites from all over.

Fremont as it stands today is known for popular nightlife including dance clubs and bars that attract many students west from the University, as well as for small boutiques and restaurants that cater to the same crowd. During the workday, Fremont is host to a myriad of recently moved in technology companies including Google, Adobe, Getty Images and many more. Most are housed in newly built office structures that line the canal—the Fremont Cut is part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. In residential Fremont, which extends north from the business district along the water, there is a pretty even mix of single-family homes, older apartments and newer construction townhouses and condo complexes. As the technology company money and general growth in Seattle spread through Fremont, much of the individuality of the neighborhood fades into history.

One of the remnants of Fremont’s time as its own little haven of oddities is the public art that peppers the neighborhood. Under the north end of the Aurora Bridge, a part of Highway 99 that runs over the Fremont Cut, is a statue of a troll. The troll, like those of myth, guards the bridge, though he also seems to take from it, as he is clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle (with California plates, a possible dig at the influx of new residents to the area). Originally designed to help clean up a spot known more for those who slept there than those who visited, the troll is now a popular attraction. When visiting the troll, one can also visit the ‘Waiting for the Interurban’ statue at the corner of 34th and Fremont, at the Fremont Bridge. Next to the drawbridge, six individuals and a dog await the Interurban Trolley, which passed through Fremont on its way from Seattle to Everett, before cars were the main form of transportation. The statue, while drab and grey, is eye-catching because residents take every opportunity to dress it up for visitors. Other statues in the area include a cold war remnant from Slovakia—a statue of Lenin, a rocket and the latest, ‘Running for the Interurban,’ of local clown J.P. Patches and his sidekick running for the same train that the other statue patiently awaits.

The other standout of old Fremont that continues to be a part of life there today is the Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade. The parade is led by a group of cyclists sans clothes, covered only in brightly colored body paint. If that weren’t enough, it stands out amongst parades for its rules and regulations: no advertising, no words, no recognizable logos, and no animal or motor powered vehicles. That means everything is human powered and abstractly decorated, giving the parade a unique and completely ‘Fremont’ feel.