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This Is the Fascinating Seattle Gum Wall and Its Art

By Orgesta Tolaj


13 November 2023

gum wall art

© Ben Curry / Unsplash

Ah yes, the beautiful wonders of the world. From the high and mighty pyramids to even the beautiful Taj Mahal. And let’s not forget about Seattle’s Gum Wall! Wait, what? It is not part of the seven wonders? Do tell! Well, it is still one of the most unique travel spots that you need to see at least once in your life. Although some might find it quite disgusting, it actually has quite some history behind it!

What Is the Seattle Gum Wall?

Tucked away in an unassuming corner within Pike Place Market lies an unexpected marvel known as The Gum Wall. This peculiar yet captivating installation stands as a testament to Seattle’s distinctive charisma. Its origins trace back to the 1990s, an era when individuals, particularly patrons and performers frequenting Unexpected Productions, began adhering their chewed gum to the alley’s brick walls. What started as a quirky, impromptu act burgeoned into a sprawling mosaic of colors and textures that now spans a considerable expanse of Post Alley.

Seattle Gum Wall
© Valkyrie Pierce / Unsplash

The evolution of this ‘artwork’ has been a community effort, with both locals and tourists contributing to its kaleidoscopic display. Over the years, it has transformed into a patchwork of various shapes, messages, and forms, encapsulating the essence of the city’s creative spirit.

How Can You Visit It?

Visiting this unique attraction involves a deliberate venture off the beaten path. Descend the ramp to the left of the iconic “Public Market Center” clock sign in Pike Place Market. As you make your way into Post Alley, the Gum Wall emerges on both sides, impossible to miss with its vibrant and continuously evolving appearance. Its charm lies not only in the visual spectacle it offers but also in the collective participation that keeps it alive and ever-changing.

This wall of gum stands as a testament to the unconventional and eclectic character of Seattle, inviting visitors to contribute their own piece to this ongoing, sticky masterpiece.

Fun Facts About Seattle’s Gum Wall

Here are some of the crazy facts about this wall:

  • Sticking gum started over 30 years ago. Since 1993, the Seattle Gum Wall has been accumulating gum, initially starting with people waiting for shows at the old Market Theater. Initially, efforts were made to keep the wall clean, but the overwhelming daily contributions led to the abandonment of cleaning as thousands of pieces of gum adorned the wall for over 20 years.
  • It was only cleaned once. In November 2015, the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority removed all the gum from the wall and steam-cleaned the brick to protect it from the sugar damage caused by the gum. The extensive cleaning, taking 130 hours, resulted in the removal of 2,350 pounds of old and new gum. Despite this effort, visitors promptly resumed adding gum to the wall.
  • It is not the only Gum Wall in America. While it is the most renowned, it’s not the only one. Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California, is another well-known gum wall. Additionally, a smaller one exists on a Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe in Greenville, Ohio.
  • It is over 50 Feet long! It isn’t just a small strip. It actually spans over 50 feet along the alley. While most gum is reachable, some are high up or in hidden spots. Visitors have started creating “gum sculptures” a few inches away from the wall. With ongoing additions, each visit promises discoveries.

The Downsides of Seattle’s Unique Attraction

The Gum Wall earned a spot as one of the top 5 “germiest” tourist attractions in 2009, ranking just below the Blarney Stone. Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, hailed it as his favorite unique Seattle feature. Situated at the beginning of the Ghost Tour, it’s also favored by wedding photographers. Visitors often craft declarations of love out of gum, drawing parallels between the Gum Wall and romantic spots like Paris’ Pont des Arts.

Seattle Gum Wall
© Jesse Collins / Unsplash

Critics contend that the gum wall fosters litter, with visitors adding items like cigarette butts and wrappers. Concerns have been raised about gum being tracked into nearby businesses and attracting rats in the alley. Efforts by adjacent bars and restaurants, including displaying “No Gum” signs, have proven ineffective in preventing gum from reaching their premises.

Would you ever go and visit this unique Seattle attraction?

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Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!