(CNN) -- Just north of downtown Seattle, across the mighty Lake Washington Ship Canal, perches a proud little town that is home to old fashioned trolls, fabled underground rivers of beer and a seven-ton incarnation of Lenin ... a charmingly off-kilter enclave where one can (without raising many eyebrows) lug a sofa down the street to the outdoor cinema, browse for dresses made of old curtains or simply linger for days in a languid latte haze.
Fremont is more than a neighborhood. This quirky, retrofunk bastion is a self-declared Republic that boldly claims the cluster of skyscrapers across the water its "suburb."
"Welcome to Fremont, Center of the Universe," says the sign at the orange and blue drawbridge coming into town. "Throw your watch away."