I will never forget the traffic anxiety I endured when we first moved to Seattle. Driving around, hyper-alert with my hands at 10 and 2 out of sheer necessity, perched forward with sweaty palms; distressed or disoriented, but usually both. The first time I pulled up to one of Seattle’s many confusing five-way intersections I swear I heard Google maps say, “I’m lost too, you’re on your own.”
I must’ve gotten glared at or honked at dozens of times in that first month. I just wasn’t prepared for the lack of stop signs, the lanes that abruptly declare themselves to be carpool only/bus only, and the way people parallel park in both directions regardless of which side of the street they’re on. Bizarre. Not to mention driving up and down the beastly hills, and sometimes having to stop in the middle of them in bumper to bumper traffic. (And by ‘steep’ I mean rollercoaster-grade inclines. Once Clay and I were driving up one of the city’s most intense inclines and his cell phone slid backwards and fell out of his pocket.)
Fremont definitely has its fair share of wonky intersections. The intersection of Fremont Ave, Fremont Place, and N 35th Street comes to mind. It’s a busy place to be, with all the boutiques and restaurants and traffic coming from all directions. There is a tiny island in the center of it all, and in the center of that you will find Fremont’s famous Center of the Universe guidepost.
The guidepost was installed in 1991 when Fremont was frequently subject to ‘art attacks’, and it has been a beloved part of the city ever since. Given it’s vulnerable location, it has been hit by a car or two and subsequently has been repaired several times. Surprisingly enough, as far as I know, it still does not have an official permit to be there, which, disregarding the nitty gritty, goes to show just how beloved this particular piece of artwork is.
To reiterate its popularity even more, in November of 2018 a woman actually stole the sign single handedly and the city was beside itself. In my brief research I found several articles detailing the incident in disbelief. One local publication (The Stranger) called the situation a “local atrocity.”
Shortly after the theft, a new and improved guidepost was rebuilt with donations from local businesses. The artist, Maque daVis, was quoted to say “You can break, you can steal our art, but we’re going to make more.”
Needless to say, the guidepost is a gem.
- It tells us that this is indeed the center of the universe.
- It also directs you to local and faraway landmarks, in a whimsical way. Most of which (the locals ones anyway) are within walking distance. No google maps required.
More on Fremont:
Bell, Michael. “Some Loser Stole Fremont’s ‘Center of the Universe’ Sign!” The Stranger, 8 Nov. 2018, 11:29, https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/11/08/35236714/some-loser-stole-fremonts-center-of-the-universe-sign
Millman, Zosha. “Don’t Fret: Fremont’s Got a New ‘Center of the Universe’ Sign on the Way.” Seattlepi.com, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 18 Nov. 2018, www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Fremont-Center-Universe-Sign-New-signpost-13403081.php.
Walker, Meghan. “Volunteers Recreate Fremont’s ‘Center of Universe’ Signpost.” My Ballard, 20 Nov. 2018, www.myballard.com/2018/11/20/volunteers-recreate-fremonts-center-of-universe-signpost/.