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A wall where you can stick your chewing gum

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Seattle’s

Gum Wall

, a vibrant and sticky mosaic located in Post Alley beneath

Pike Place Market

, is one of the city’s most unusual and popular landmarks. This peculiar attraction began almost by accident in the early 1990s and has since evolved into a collective art project that both fascinates and repulses visitors from around the world.
The story of the Gum Wall starts outside the Market Theater in Post Alley, where patrons waiting in line for shows began sticking their chewed gum onto the wall.

Initially, the theater’s employees would scrape the gum off, but as the colorful collection grew, it became clear that this was a losing battle. The wall was cleaned twice, but each time, it wasn’t long before the gum reappeared, more abundant than ever.
By 2009, the Gum Wall had gained international notoriety, even being featured in the movie “Love Happens,” where Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart added their gum to the collection. This scene turned the Gum Wall into a romantic destination, akin to the love locks found in Italy and Paris. The wall’s fame exploded, and visitors began flocking to Post Alley to leave their mark.

Gum Wall

The Gum Wall gained worldwide recognition when it was featured in a 2009 rom-com called ‘Love Happen’ featuring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. Source: Canva

The Gum Wall stretches over fifty feet long and is eight feet high, with layers of gum that continue to grow. It’s a living piece of art, constantly changing as new visitors add their contributions. The tradition has become so ingrained that efforts to stop it have been in vain. The unique and colorful

landmark

however, has not been without its controversies.
The Seattle Gum Wall’s allure goes hand in hand with its share of repulsion, particularly when it comes to the practice of some tourists who choose to chew off a piece of gum from the wall. This act, often driven by a desire for an unusual experience or a daring photo opportunity, is seen by many as unsanitary and distasteful. The wall, which was named one of the top 5 germiest

tourist

attractions in 2009, is a breeding ground for bacteria due to the sheer volume of saliva-coated gum pieces. On hot summer days, the scent of the wall can become quite overpowering, adding to the overall sense of repulsiveness.
The issue of cleanliness and preservation of the historic site is of major concern. The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA), which manages the area, has had to balance the wall’s popularity with the need to protect the integrity of the bricks.
In 2015, the PDA decided to clean the wall for the first time in 20 years to prevent damage from the sugar in the gum. This cleaning process involved over 130 hours of work and the removal of over a ton of gum. The wall was cleaned again in 2018, and both times, it took only about five months for the wall to return to its vibrant state.
Despite repeated unsuccessful attempts by authorities to dismantle the wall, it seems that the Gum Wall will continue to be a sticky but integral part of Seattle’s identity for the foreseeable future. Even Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, confessed it was his favorite spot during an interview. The wall’s resilience and the community’s attachment to it suggest that it will remain a part of Seattle’s landscape for years to come.
The Gum Wall is more than just an alley covered in chewed gum; it’s a visible display of Seattle’s quirky spirit. It represents a collective effort, a place where everyone, regardless of background, can contribute to a piece of the city’s culture. It’s a symbol of the creativity and eccentricity that thrive in Seattle, a city known for its unique landmarks and artistic community.
Visitors to the Gum Wall can expect to see a kaleidoscope of colors and flavors, with pieces of gum of all shapes and sizes adorning the walls. The alley has become a busy spot for businesses, with hundreds of people passing through each weekend. It’s a place where you can leave a little piece of yourself behind, in the form of a chewed piece of gum, joining the thousands of others who have done the same.

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