Dispatch from the Center of the Universe

Everybody knows that the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle is the Center of the Universe. (According to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, the determination was made in 1991 by an assemblage called the Fremont Scientists, who issued the declaration “after a careful and considered study.”)

A band of rogue sign makers, instigated by local artist Maque daVis, erected a sign on a pedestrian island pointing directions and distances to various landmarks – TROLL; 2 BLKS, LOUVRE; 9757 KM, MILKY WAY; 69 LT. YRS, “NOOGIE; TOP OF HEAD – thus proving Fremont’s centrality. A couple years later the Metropolitan King County Council issued a proclamation and in 1994 put up an “official” sign.

Fremont’s decline began in 1998, when Adobe came, moving into its new building, a modern, soulless edifice put up without regard to its eccentric surroundings. The resulting gentrification and rising rents over the past two decades have driven out the artistic community that made Fremont its home and gave the neighborhood its quirkiness. Even the beloved Red Door Ale House has transitioned to upscale.

The sign remained. Errant drivers have twice taken out the signpost; both times it was repaired and replaced. Recently, a villainous miscreant stole the sign, post and all. Surveillance video shows a woman loading the sign into her Audi and driving away. Seattle police have a suspect, a “serial sign stealer.”

Maque daVis

Mr. daVis, who no longer lives in the neighborhood, is finishing work on a replacement sign. Keeping with the spirit of Fremont, the new one is being built with materials donated by local merchants and erected without permits or other bureaucratic interference.

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