The Fremont section of Seattle is proud of its self-awarded status as "center of the universe," and pleased to be recognized as a haven for artists, students, old lefties, and other refugees from a city that more than ever seems caught up in technology, trendiness, and moneymaking. Helen Divjak's "Seattle's Fremont" does a good job capturing Fremont's history, development, and sense of itself in a book that's tailor-made for browsing.
Part of the "Images of America" series, "Seattle's Fremont" is made up primarily of photographs and well-informed captions. I found the first section, tracing the development of Fremont, the most interesting, and was surprised by how recognizable so much of the neighborhood was more than a century ago. The photos here are well-chosen, and illustrate the residential and industrial variety of the neighborhood. The third section, charting "Fremont's revival" and the state of the neighborhood today, was also interesting although it probably doesn't offer a whole lot that people familiar with the area wouldn't already have known.
Where I thought the book was weakest was the central section, "Fremont's Faces." Although the author writes this chapter is intended to focus on "the institutions and businesses, as well as the people behind them, which have made significant contributions to building a rich community," the images seem to have come almost exclusively from the archives of Fremont Baptist and St. Paul Lutheran churches, and the Pheasant family. Consequently, there are lots and lots of photos of Sunday School classes, church group reunions, and members of the Pheasant family. Not being a Lutheran, a Baptist, or a Pheasant, I found this part much more skim-worthy than what came before and after. Despite this lull, however, Fremont residents and fans of its (to use the inevitable adjectives) "eclectic" and "quirky" nature would certainly find this title worth having on their shelves.
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Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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Lovingly labeled by locals as the Center of the Universe, Fremont is one of Seattle's most eclectic and dynamic neighborhoods. Having been little more than lush primeval forest just over a century ago, the area grew to be the home of the city's blue-collar workers, a bohemian haven for local artists, and now a thriving urban mecca of bars, restaurants, hip boutiques, and art studios that cater to the worldly aware. Most recently, Fremont has become the address of hightech giants like Adobe. It continues to evolve, reflecting the changes in industry that have contributed to Fremont's reputation as an urban area on the cutting edge.