Fremont Bridge – Seattle, Washington - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Seattle, Washington

Fremont Bridge

From a neon Rapunzel to a bike traffic meter to a street fair color scheme, the most opened drawbridge in the US is a veritable art gallery. 

Built back in 1917, Seattle’s Fremont Bridge, which connects the neighborhoods of Fremont and Queen Anne, has grown from a busy utilitarian span that ranks as the most frequently opened drawbridge in the country into a veritable community arts center with an ever growing collection of unique features and decorations.

Almost from its inception, the Fremont Bridge began working overtime. With a water clearance of just around 30 feet, the bridge, which was opened in the same year as the shipping lane it runs over, must lift its length for almost every boat passing underneath. Originally only trolley cars could cross the bridge during the day, with the rest of the traffic across the bridge reserved for the evenings, making the constant opening and closing of the span not much of an issue. However today, with traffic across the bridge a constant, the bridge opens around 35 times, often creating long waits for drivers.

Despite this minor nuisance, the bridge has been embraced by the surrounding bohemian community. The first major artistic change to the bridge was in 1985 when a vote at a street fair resulted in the bridge being painted blue. new features and decorations have continued to accumulate over the years. One of the control towers in the bridge is now home to a neon Rapunzel whose electric hair trails down the side of the wall, while on the opposite side another neon creation illustrates a fable of an elephant and a crocodile by Rudyard Kipling. One of the most recent additions is an electronic bike counter that displays the number of bicyclists that cross the bridge each day, adding the total to an ever increasing yearly goal meter.

Given that the bridge is located in the same neighborhood that gave us the Fremont Troll, it is likely that the bridge will continue to see more flourishes down the years.