You can smell it long before you see it. A carnival like aroma of tutti-frutti with a sprinkle of spearmint wafting toward Seattle tourist attraction seekers. Then presenting itself like a rainbow explosion of sticky DNA samples, the Seattle Gum Wall stops visitors in their tracks.
“Don’t touch that!”
A parent screeches while grabbing a toddler reaching out for a sample of the Seattle gum wall. Within easy reach for any height or age, two sides of the alleyway in downtown Seattle drip with gooey gum of eye popping quantity.
Covering an area from ground to body lengths high, one can only imagine the shenanigans that has occurred to plant bubble gum wall additions high on the brick facade.
The Market Theater gum wall originates at the box office for which it is named. In 1993 a rather odd, and troublesome to theater workers, tradition began. Sticky blobs of chewing gum were placed by patrons on the brick wall as they waited for shows at nearby Unexpected Productions. Coins were added to the tacky mess.
Twice theater employees declared the Seattle gum wall clean. One imagines this to be the least desirable task on the to do list of any caretaker. So much so that after the second gum cleaning hands were thrown in the air in surrender to the relentless bubble gum chewers of Seattle.
In a most ingenious marketing ploy, the Seattle gum alley was declared a tourist attraction. Surely Seattle could propose to patent the idea of titling litter as art and take the concept world wide.
Is the bubblegum wall clean?
Is the sky purple with pink polka dots? No! Seattle’s multi-layered chewing gum likely could walk itself down the street with an assorted army of microscopic beings.
Once named one of the most germ filled tourist attractions in the world it joins the ranks of kissing the Blarney Stone.
If a wall steam cleaner had fallen out of the sky I may have taken a crack at disinfecting it myself. As much as the chewing gum wall has taken a high spot in all of the Seattle tourist attractions the gooey bacteria-laden scene balances enthusiasm of gum wall visitors.
In November of 2015 the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority declared the gum wall in Seattle would be having a thorough shower. It turns out that sugar is not only bad for teeth. Gum also destroys bricks.
Remember that the next time you pop a piece of gum in your mouth.
Over 130 hours of what must have been an amazing wall cleaner showdown, 2,350 pounds (1,070kg) of chewing gum was removed from the Seattle wall.
The pristine bricks soon after their washing began collecting the saliva covered deposits once again. Today the wall stretches beyond the alley, around the corner and on its way to Pike Place Market.
Apparently those visiting the bubblegum wall felt sorry for the opposing wall looking gumless. Now it too is adorned in a technicolor chewing gum display of its own.
Where is the Seattle gum wall?
Situated at 1428 Post Alley in Seattle, Washington the unique Seattle wall art is near to the famous Pike’s Market. You are sure to see people making the turn into the alley with guidebook in hand.
Keep an ear open for “That’s the grossest thing I’ve ever seen!” and other endearing terms for the Seattle bubble gum extravaganza.
Are there other chewing gum walls?
It turns out that the Seattle wall is not a unique concept. Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California covers more than 70 feet (21 m). At the 700 block of Higuera Street passers by deposit their chewing gum.
Greenville, Ohio also boasts a chewing gum wall. This one can be found on the outside of a sandwich shop. Now there is an appetizing concept!
The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in Seattle. You will find no shortage of vendors near Post Alley. You guessed it. Many are selling bubblegum.
Want to visit the Seattle gum wall one day? Pin it for a future trip!
What do you think? Is the bubble gum alley a Seattle creative art project? Or is the Seattle bubble scene a disgusting bust?