For many years, Fremont enjoyed its reputation as Seattle's weirdest neighborhood, home to hippies, artists, bikers, and rat-race dropouts. But Fremont has lost most of its artist cachet as the stores along its main strip turned more upscale, luxury condos and town houses appeared above the neighborhood's warren of small houses, and rising rents sent many longtime residents reluctantly packing (many to nearby Ballard). On weekend nights, the Downtown strip sometimes looks like one big party, as a bunch of bars draw in a young crowd from Downtown, the University District, and the city's suburbs.
The mixed bag of "quintessential sights" in this neighborhood reflects the intersection of past and present. Most of them, like Seattle's favorite photo stop, the Fremont Troll, are works of public art created in the 1980s and '90s. Others, like Theo Chocolate and Fremont Brewing, celebrate the independent spirit of the neighborhood but suggest a much different lifestyle than the founders of the "republic of Fremont" espoused. Still others are neutral and timeless, like a particularly lovely section of the Burke Gilman Trail along the Lake Washington Ship Canal.