This is the first post in a series in which I'll be highlighting each of the different neighborhoods of Seattle. In each post I'll spotlight a different neighborhood and explain a little about its culture. First up is Fremont, known as one of the two artistic neighborhoods in the city (the other being Capitol Hill). Whereas Capitol Hill is edgy and modern, Fremont is more of a throwback to the hippie, New Age era of the sixties and seventies. It was once a countercultural center, but now it's become a bit more gentrified and can seem a bit dated. Fremont is where you'll see people wearing tie-dyed clothes made of hemp, sporting long dreadlocks and a guitar case, heading to the local arts & crafts market or music festival. In fact, just this past weekend when I was exploring the neighborhood, hundreds of old hippies were gettin' their psychedelic groove on at the "Lovefest", a day-long world music festival, and I could smell the incense from a dozen blocks away.
Fremontonians like to say that they live in the "Center of the Universe", and they're also famous (or perhaps infamous?) for their Summer Solstice Parade, held annually on aforesaid day, the highlight being the nude, painted cyclists zipping down the street. Are you understanding what I meant about Fremont having a distinctive hippie vibe?
Somewhat surprisingly, Fremont has also become an epicenter of Seattle technology companies, to the point that it's now called the "Silicon Canal". Some of the tech companies in Fremont include Google (which actually has two locations in Seattle, both of which offer all the usual Google perks, including kayaks for a quick lunchtime paddle around a lake), Adobe, Getty Images, AdReady, Tableau Software, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Groundspeak, and a whole slew of smaller start-ups. So Fremont is both a throwback to the countercultural past and a herald of the tech-driven future, all rolled into one artistic, vibrant little neighborhood.
Despite - or maybe because of - its seventies ambiance, I like Fremont. I had fun with the Fremont Troll, the Lenin statue, the Dusty Strings music store, the vintage shopping mall, and Silence-Heart-Nest, the "vegetarian heart of Fremont". This is a place where I can let my own hippie tendencies come out and play - or should I say groove - for a while. I may have to go back and buy myself some of that incense. :)