Sticky situation: Seattle’s ‘gum wall’ delights and disgusts in equal measure

Sticky situation: Seattle’s ‘gum wall’ delights and disgusts in equal measure

Sticky situation: Seattle’s ‘gum wall’ delights and disgusts in equal measure

Written by Reuters

16 Oct, 2019 | 6:45 pm

Reuters – Seattle’s Pike Place Market attracts throngs of tourists every day but follow a cobbled street down beneath the market and you’ll discover something altogether less wholesome…Seattle’s infamous ‘Gum Wall’.

More than just a wall, it’s a 50-yard stretch of alleyway whose walls are covered in gum left behind by visitors. The tradition started in the early 1990s and, after a couple of futile attempts to get rid of the gum, market administrators declared the Gum Wall a tourist attraction in 1999.

Visitors don’t just leave their gum, they use the wall to make art and leave messages for people. It’s even used as a spot to declare love.

For one visitor from Colorado, seeing the Gum Wall was the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.

“I think the Gum Wall is absolutely incredible. It’s way bigger than I thought it would be, and it’s just a really excellent place to be. I mean, I’ve been wanting to come here for many, many years now, and so to finally be here and see all the gum and see the people enjoying the gum, it’s really cool,” Carmelo Gonzalez said.

Thirty years on from its inception, the Gum Wall continues to delight and disgust in equal measure.

“Coming down this alley gives you a big whiff of something interesting. You definitely smell the gum but you smell the age of the gum ironically, so, it’s interesting,” said Tabitha Arcelon, visiting from San Diego, California with her daughter, Maya.

“I think it’s really colorful but a little bit stinky and gross,” added Maya.

In fact, today’s Gum Wall is the product of just a few years of gum-sticking. The alley was steam-cleaned four years ago, with workers removing more than a ton (907 kilos) of gum. As soon as it was cleaned, the gum started appearing on the walls again.

And in the age of Instagram and social media, the gum wall keeps attracting more and more visitors, all looking for that perfect selfie moment.

“It’s kind of gross,” said Kerry Rudnik, standing in front of wall covered in chewed gum with a selfie stick.

“Very gross,” added her husband. “But it’s very interesting too.”

With another five-yearly cleaning expected soon, gum chewers will soon have a new, fresh brick canvas to decorate when they visit Seattle.

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