Seattle Week: Gum Wall

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People usually think of Seattle as a busy, high-tech hub with an outdoorsy twist, but the city also has a quirky side. 

It has several odd visitor attractions. Among the weirdest is Seattle’s gum wall.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a wall covered in chewed gum. 

It’s kind of gross, but most people quickly adjust to the ickiness and end up having a great time adding gum themselves and, of course, grabbing some pretty awesome selfies. 

The Seattle gum wall started in the early 1990s.

It began when people waiting for shows at a nearby theater would stick gum to the wall. Theater workers tried to keep the wall clean, but couldn’t keep up. They eventually just stopped trying, and the gum wall tradition stuck. Literally.

You don’t have to go out of your way to find the Seattle gum wall. It’s located just outside the main entrance to Pike Place Market.

Here are a few freaky facts about the gum wall.

#1: It’s gotten out of control.

Up until 2015, the gum wall had never been cleaned. Imagine more than 20 years of gum stuck to the brick wall.

In 2015, the wall got steam cleaned. The work took 130 hours, and over 2,000 pounds of gum was taken away. But if you visit today, you might believe the wall was never cleaned at all. It’s as gummy and icky as ever.

#2: It’s over 50 feet long.

The gum is spread along an alley. Most of the gum is within arm’s reach, but there are some stuck very high up on the wall and in some really weird places.

#3: It’s very dirty.

In 2009, the Seattle gum wall was named one of the top five germiest tourist attractions in the world. It was second only to the Blarney Stone, which involves putting your lips onto the rock’s surface. 

#4: People make gum designs.

While most visitors choose to simply stick a wad of chewed gum to the wall, other folks can get pretty artsy. If you look carefully, you can find people’s names in gum, hearts, stars, peace signs, and other pictures. 

#5: It’s not the only gum wall.

Other gum walls have sprouted across America. Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo is the gum wall that most people may have heard of, but there’s also a popular gum wall in Greenville, Ohio.

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