When I stop to think about all the places to see in Seattle, the one that baffles me the most is the Gum Wall: How did an alley decorated with used chewing gum become such a famous and popular tourist attraction??
I don’t know, but I gave into the hype and spent a few minutes in that alley when I visited Seattle. I walked over to the Gum Wall after exploring Pike Place Market. It’s conveniently accessible through a narrow driveway located to the left of the “Public Market Center” sign. And it didn’t take me long to know for sure I was heading in the right direction because I caught a whiff of the sweet scent of gum as I got closer to where everything was.
Being at Gum Wall reminded me of a trip I took through California’s Central Coast a couple of years ago. California has its own version of Gum Wall in San Luis Obispo, called Bubblegum Alley. I noticed a lot of the gum in Gum Wall appeared fresher than the wall in San Luis Obispo. I also saw some people actually adding their own contribution to the wall in Seattle 😛
Gum Wall is both fascinating and kind of gross. How often, after all, do you get to walk through an alley with walls that are covered in gum? At the same time, there’s something strange about being in a space where you’re surrounded by thousands wads of gum that were soaked with saliva before people pulled it out of their mouths and pressed it against the brick walls in Post Alley :/
What’s even more interesting about Gum Wall, though, is how it got started, something I became aware of after I wandered through the strangely popular place. According to the Gum Wall’s Facebook page, someone waiting in the ticket line to see an improv comedy show in the early 1990s stuck a piece of chewed gum to the wall, then stuck a penny on top of it. By 1995, the wall was covered with gum topped with coins, and that’s something you’ll still find today in the alley.
In 2015, Gum Wall was scraped clean of gum for the first time in 20 years. Workers spent about 130 hours to collect 2,350 pounds of gum that filled 94 buckets. But the clean walls didn’t last long – gum quickly returned. The Seattle Times reported that after the Paris attacks in November 2015, about a dozen people used gum to create a peace sign with the Eiffel Tower and stuck it on a wall in the alley.
Although I have mixed feelings about Gum Alley, it really is just crazy how something like that exists. I actually went there twice while I was in Seattle, and I couldn’t help but appreciate how creative some people got with their contributions.
Gum Wall is located at:
1428 Post Alley
Seattle, WA 98101
For more information on the Gum Wall, click here.