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Fremont Troll – Seattle

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A five and a half meters tall troll, made of cement lives underneath an overpass in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. With only half of its torso showing, the concrete statue appears to be emerging from the ground. Its lone eye, once a hubcap, stares down the tunnel, while its left hand clutches a car that strayed too close. The car is an actual Volkswagen Beetle encased in concrete, which was red and bear a California license plate.

The Troll was constructed in 1990 after winning a Fremont Arts Council competition for designs to improve the freeway underpass, which then was a dumping ground. He was sculpted by Steve Badanes, along with two of his University of Washington architecture students, Will Martin and Ross Whitehead, and Steve’s then-girlfriend Donna Walter, a nomadic art group with a New Jersey post-office box who crisscrossed the country doing art projects.
The choice of the troll served as a metaphor for what that area has gone through in recent years. Legend has it that trolls live under bridges to escape traffic and development, and those were both problems Fremont has had to face.

The engineless Volkswagen Beetle crushed in the troll’s hand, which was donated for the project, also housed the project’s time capsule holding, among other things, a bust of Elvis. The bust was stolen less than four months after the statue’s installation, and the car was then filled with concrete to counter future vandalism.
The capsule included also a letter to a future governor of the state and some of the construction materials to give those who unearth it an idea of how the troll was built.
October 31 is recognized as the Fremont Troll’s birthday. Known as Troll-o-Ween, the “party” includes a celebration and stage performances open to the public.

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