Fremont has seen major changes in recent years, with the emergence of new tech companies, multi-use complexes and trendy restaurants. Yet, a look back at how Fremont has developed over the course of the past century renders the understanding that the neighborhood currently dubbed as the "Center of the Universe" has not always stayed true to this image. Indeed, the industrial Fremont of the 1930s and 40s and the artsy haven that was the Fremont of the 1960s may be unrecognizable to a newcomer today.
Fremont used to be an industrial center for railroads and trolleys. However, after the interurban rail and trolly services came to an end between 1939 and 1941, Fremont went into decline for more than a decade. By the 1960s, the neighborhood began to attract artists and students because of its low rents, labeling itself an 'Artists' Republic.'
However, by the late 1990s and early 2000's, new developments began to emerge, changing the character of the neighborhood. The emergence of the offices of several tech companies such as Adobe Systems, Getty Images, Tableau Software, BEA Systems, Sporcle, Groundspeak, and Google have brought, in the eyes of concerned locals, a more 'yuppie' presence to the neighborhood.
Just over a decade has also brought many new major mixed-use and office developments to Fremont, especially within the few blocks surrounding the intersection of Fremont Ave and N 34th St. Adobe Systems built brand new office buildings in 1998 at the Quandrant Lake Union Center, just adjacent to Fremont Avenue. Across the street a Chase Bank moved in and a brand new Starbucks now stands replacing what was formerly a Peets Coffee (and before that the Red Door Ale House).
The natural foods store PCC opened in 2002 next door in the Block 40 Building, with apartment complexes above. Down the street, Google moved into brand new offices in 2006. The Saturn Building, filled with office spaces, is one of the most recent developments- opening in 2012.
While many have decried the gentrification taking place in Fremont as sucking away the neighborhood's quirky and independent soul, the reality is not quite as black and white. Public art still holds a key role in the neighborhood, from the subtle yet quirky rocket ship located atop a building on the corner of 35th and Evanston to the Lenin Statue just up the street.
Times change, and Fremont's development has evolved accordingly. While the major transportation mode seen in the Fremont of the 1930s may have been Seattle's long-gone trolley service, the Fremont of today is more worried about the increased traffic congestion from cars that new businesses have brought to the area.
Written by Alyssa Campbell
· 'New 2-story Fremont Starbucks serving 'cool group of artistic humans' [Biz Journal]
· All Curbed coverage of Fremont