Got a hazardous waste site in the middle of a city that you don't know what to do with? Turn it into a family park! This is the short history of Gasworks park. Gasworks is an incredible juxtaposition of rusting industrial infrastructure and an incredibly beautiful view of Lake Union and downtown. Relax on kite hill and watch the kayaks, sailboats and seaplanes plying the waters of Lake Union. Or come in the evening to see the city twinkle. But don't forget, "Don't eat the dirt!"
Get there by tavelling east on the Burke Gilman trail.
If you've had enough of the glitz and glamour of what Fremont has become you should stroll West on the Burke Gilman to gett a better idea of what Fremont has been. Out beyond the pagan fire ring you'll walk past an asphalt plant, shipyards, old rail line, cement trucks and other remnants of industrial Seattle.
After this half mile trek you'll find yourself right next to a more recent industrial addition: Hale's Brewery
Our local hills can be somewhat daunting even to hardened Seattle cyclists. If you'd like to see how they can be 'flattened' you should test ride an electric bike at Electric Vehicles Northwest. It's quite a thrill to feel suddenly like Lance Armstrong charging up the Pyrenees.
And you'll have a chance to engage the owners in conversations about the mystical experience of riding a bike. Co-owner Eric Sundin is writing a book titled Out from Under the Car and is quite eloquent about the need for human transportation.
The address is 110 N 36th.
The Fremont Fine Arts Foundry isn't commercial and certainly isn't a typical tourist destination but it still represents the artistic soul of Fremont. Here you'll find an art gallery, apartments and workspace for several Fremont artists in a semi-abandoned industrial setting reminiscent of the early 70's Fremont that attracted them. If you meet someone there you should ask if you might have a look at the foundry itself. Watching bronze being cast is quite spectacular!
The address is 154 N 35th St.
Fremont is blessed with a 1921 Mediterranean style Carnegie library. Inside you can relax in a comfy chair while reading a newspaper or magazine or just stare up at the lovely, wood paneled ceiling. Other amenities include a very helpful staff, Internet access and clean public restrooms.
The reason it's all so nice is because Seattlites love their libaries! In 1996 we passed a $196.4 million bond measure to upgrade our library facilities and infrastructure. Sometimes it seems like we've all read John Kenneth Galbraith's "The Affluent Society" and got the message.
The address is 731 N. 35th St.
The story goes that this rocket had its origins in Russia in the 1950s, and somehow wound up at a surplus materials dealer in Seattle by the 1990s. In order to create a "suitable landmark" for the Fremont District, local businesses and a few others raised funds to re-create the rocket as a monument on top of a surplus store at the corner of Evanston Avenue North and North 35th Street.
It is somewhat hard to tell how much, if any, of any such original rocket remains. There have been many artistic additions to the rocket, including various lights and a few appendages here and there. Nozzles sticking out of the bottom of the rocket include images of planets and moons.
When it was originally placed here in 1994, the rocket was a prominent landmark due to it sitting fairly high above the surrounding structures. Since that day, there have been a number of multi-level condominum and appartment buildings constructed in the area.
The rocket is one block away from the main Fremont business district and there are a number of local businesses and bus routes nearby, so getting to the sculpture / rocket is not a problem if you are already in the area.
The web site below is from the Fremont Business Association, the page of which gives a story (some of which might actually be true) of how the Fremont Rocket came to be.
When discussing if the Seattle area tends to lean politically "red" or "blue", the response must always be somewhat mixed, for Seattle was doing thing in a "red" way long before those colors came to symbolize USA political parties.
Indeed, with the arrival of this huge statue of Vladimir Lenin to a public corner in Fremont in the mid-1990s, it can be said that the Fremont area has become one of the most "red" places in the USA.
Unfortunately, most of the time in USA politics, the current nicknames for "red" politics is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the more traditional "red" symbols of "Red Square" and "Red October".
From time to time, Mr. Lenin finds himself decorated for Christmas.
Where Is This?
North of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and near the north end of the Fremont Bridge. N 36th Street, as it comes east, turns south and changes names to Fremont Place North. N 36th continues east as a very minor road. This statue is located at this intersection, and to make things even more interesting Evanston Avenue N. crosses the whole mess as a north-south street in the area as well. The statue is on the triangle of land on the north side of Fremont Place North and south of N. 36th Street. It sits in a small plaza in front of a series of store fronts, including an ice cream and sandwich stop and a nail salon.
The statue was found toppled after the 1989 revolutions swept eastern Europe, and was brought to North America due to its artistic merit and unusual posing of Lenin.
As seen in photo 2, sometimes Lenin is decorated for special occasions, such as this photo of special additions for Christmas 2009.
How to Get Here:
Bus routes 31, 26, 28 and several others are very close by. 28 from downtown is probably the best choice. Driving can be a pain as there is limited parking anywhere near the statue.
According to the Seattle Parks web site, this park was dedicated on August 6, 1990 on the 45th Anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. It was constructed by volunteers using $5,000 seed money from the professor that won the 1988 Hiroshima Peace Prize.
The park currently features the 1990 Sculpture "Sadako and the Thousand Cranes", celebrating the life of a girl that died at 12 from radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima.
The park also features several benches and a small open space.
If you are able to wander down the hill towards the underside of the bridge, you will find another huge sculpture. However, I was unsure if this was part of the park or not. I was unable to take photographs on my first visit (October 5th) as it was surrounded by striking workers from a nearby construction project.
Unfortunately, despite the name and the really nice gesture of peace, the small park is surrounded by busy roads and is only peaceful at very rare times when there isn't much traffic.
How to Get Here: Eastlake Avenue NE crosses the Lake Washington Ship Canal on a bridge called University Bridge. The park is located immediately west of the north end of the bridge, right where the end of the bridge intersects 40th. The park is on the south side of 40th. There are several dozen bus routes in the area, and the park is essentially across the street from a stop that serves 49, 70, 71, 72 and 73. Two blocks west is a stop served by 30, 31, 32, 71 and 72. Somewhat further north are stops served by express buses on Interstate 5.
The good news is that this is an attractive little park that overlooks the east end of the passage between Lake Union and Lake Washington. It is somewhat hidden from major roads, and is not extremely busy with people most of the time. It can be a good place to watch the boat traffic.
However, it is NOT a quiet park. It sits directly under the Interstate 5 bridge over the ship canal, and thus is completely submerged in loud traffic noise virtually all the time.
The park has a few benches and a picnic table, and the propeller from the shallow draft tug Arctic Bear, donated by Bearing Marine of Seattle in order to honor the working maritime history of Lake Union and the ship canal. There is a set of low steps that go down to water level.
In the distance it is possible to see the Space Needle and parts of downtown Seattle.
How to Get Here: The official park address is 600 NE Northlake Way, Seattle WA 98105. The closest bus routes are routes 45 and 46, near the intersection of Northlake Way and the University Bridge. The park hides behind a row of native vegetation that makes it a little hard to see from the road, but a standard size Seattle Parks sign is out front for all to see. The park is directly east of the Ivar's Salmon House restaurant, and on the east side of the park are shelves and shelves of boat storage, as seen in photo 5.
Calling this the "Fremont Bridge Troll" is a bit misleading as the troll is actually under the Aurora Avenue Bridge. The Fremont Bridge is actually alightly west of the Aurora Avenue bridge.
So, if you just finished building a nice new bridge, what would you put under it as artwork?
Well, a troll obviously, since Trolls always live under bridges.
Since Aurora Avenue was built across the Aurora Avenue bridge when it was completed, obviously the road under the bridge would have to be renamed too. So, Troll Avenue it is.
Due to the shadows, the troll can be hard to photograph.
Take some time to look at the details of the sculpture as well.
The location of the troll is North 36th Street and Troll Avenue North. It is easiest to get there by walking from anywhere in the surrounding neighborhoods, and there is public parking all along many of the streets nearby.
Buses 26, 30, 31 and 46 stop under the bridge at Troll Avenue one block from the troll. Just get off the bus and walk up the hill one block.
Most of the Libraries in Seattle are absolutely beautiful, and the Fremont library is no exception.
Next to this library is a small park built into the hillside, which features benches, a number of well maintained plants, and a sculpture called "Water Mover" which collects the falling rain and dumps it into a bucket.
The park also features a small outdoor ampitheatre, and a pathway through the park is built in a slow multiple S curve to allow wheelchair users to access the library without having to modify the antique entryway of the building.
The park is located on the south side of N 35th Street, about halfway between Fremont Avenue and Troll Avenue (under the bridge).