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Seattle's Gum Wall: A Colorful Can't-Miss Attraction
October 13, 2022 By CityPASS
As the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, Washington, has numerous tourist destinations that attract people from around the globe. However, between the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, it can be difficult to pack all the experiences you want to have in the Emerald City into one trip.
However, one attraction you're not going to want to miss is the Seattle gum wall at Pike Place Market. This colorful display features hundreds of thousands of pieces of gum that locals and tourists have attached to the wall's visage for decades.
Keep reading to learn about the history of Seattle's gum wall, some fun facts, and tips on adding your gum to the wall when you visit!
What Is the Seattle Gum Wall?
The history of how the Seattle gum wall began is significantly less artistic than one might think but makes the wall's existence all the more charming. The famed gum wall started in 1993 when patrons standing in line for the Market Theater began sticking their pieces of gum to the wall outside the building and affixing pennies to the gum.
As more people began sticking their gum to the wall, what began as a form of littering became an interactive art installation that people now travel from all over the world to participate in. The chewing gum wall is now a must-see destination for tourists who visit Pike Place Market.
The Wall of Gum: Fun Facts
Enjoy these fun facts about the once clean and unassuming brick alleyway that has become one of Seattle's top free tourist destinations.
The Germiest Tourist Attraction
Germaphobes may want to steer clear of this famed gum wall, as it's considered one of the germiest tourist attractions in the world.
In 2009, the gum wall was officially named one of the world's top five germiest attractions, and while the wall has undergone a significant cleaning since then, it's safe to say that the germs have come back in full force since hundreds of thousands of pieces of gum have found their way back on the wall. Consider traveling with some hand sanitizer if you choose to add your chewing gum to the collection!
The Brick Wall Has Only Been Cleaned Twice
Despite gum chewers doing their best to keep the wall as dirty as possible, city workers have wiped the canvas clean twice since the wall's inception in the early 90s.
The first official cleaning of the wall was in 2015, which took roughly 130 hours using a pressure washer, steam machine, and quite a bit of elbow grease for the city to remove the decades of gum from the wall, piece by piece. At this time, more than 2,000 pounds of gum were removed from the wall.
The wall was cleaned a second time in 2018, which city officials have said is to preserve the historic buildings that the gum is stuck to. However, it only took about five months after each cleaning to return the gum wall to its former glory.
The Gum Wall Is About 50 Feet Long
Seattle's gum-filled alleyway spans roughly 50 feet of historic buildings. Covering both sides of Post Alley, the gum extends from the ground to well over six feet, although the layers of gum tend to thin out towards the top, where it's difficult for people to reach.
Different Methods for Applying Your Own Wads of Gum
If you find yourself at Seattle's gum wall, you should bring a pack of gum with you to participate in the art installation. While there is no correct way of attaching your gum to the gum wall, consider some of the following popular techniques.
- A classic bubble gum dollop: For this method, simply chew your gum until it's malleable enough that you can take it out, roll it into a ball, and push it onto the gum wall.
- A flat bubble gum disk: To achieve a bubble gum disc, you'll need to take your chewing gum out of your mouth, shape it into a flat circle, and then find a large enough space on the wall to place your gum circle. Alternatively, you can lay your gum disk on top of existing gum pieces.
- A gum icicle: Attach your gum to a pipe and stretch it out like a stalactite. Draping your gum is especially attractive for individuals with brightly colored bubble gum.
- A gum rainbow: If you want to attach more than one piece of gum to the wall, you can bring multiple gum colors and line them up next to one another, creating a gum color spectrum.
- A gum signature: A classic choice for people with plenty of time, you can write a message to a loved one or sign your name with your gum so that you know exactly which piece of gum is yours and can find it again, even if it's years later.
- A gum picture: Similar to a gum signature, you can shape your gum like a heart or a smiley face for a more unique addition.
Check the Famous Gum Wall Off Your Bucket List
While the gum wall is one of the best free attractions in Seattle, you can make the most of your trip using Seattle CityPASS® tickets. Save up to at the city's most popular attractions, including the Space Needle, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, and more!
Whether you brave Seattle's rainy winters or lay by Lake Union in the summertime, you'll want to make sure the famous gum wall is on your list of places to see when you visit Seattle.
Check out our handy guide to getting around town using Seattle's public transportation to make sure you get the chance to check everything off your list!