Seattle Gum Wall

If you’re wandering around Seattle’s Pike Place Market at a loose end, pop a wad of gum in your mouth and get chewing as you wander over to the Market Theatre on Lower Post Alley. The theatre is the venue for late night improv shows and back in the 1990s, patrons waiting in line for shows started sticking gum on the wall outside. Over time, the wads of gum grew in number, despite theatre staff scraping the wall clean on at least two separate occasions. Eventually they realised they were fighting a losing battle and so the gum wall was born.

seattle pike place market lower post alley market theatre gum wall

seattle pike place market lower post alley market theatre gum wall

seattle pike place market lower post alley market theatre gum wall

The window sills are the most gruesome, with long strings of gum trailing down like multi-coloured gum icicles. People get very inventive with their gum art; I spotted a Swedish flag high up on the wall.

seattle pike place market lower post alley market theatre gum wall

seattle pike place market lower post alley market theatre gum wall

seattle pike place market lower post alley market theatre gum wall

From some angles it looks for all the world like a gingerbread house straight out of Hans Christian Andersen, but with a lot more germs. It has proven so popular that it has been recognised as an official Seattle tourist attraction and to date there are an estimated 750,000 pieces of gum on the wall. It looks like the gum wall might “stick” around for quite some time. Sorry, I couldn’t resist it. 🙂

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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121 Responses to Seattle Gum Wall

  1. That’s both very cool and very disgusting in equal measures! Great photos though…

  2. Gruesome is the right word… 🙂

  3. It looks almost like candle wax. Thanks for the photos.

  4. Know-All says:

    wow!!! what an amazing idea!! 🙂

  5. Alastair says:

    That is grossly fantastic. I suppose if you needed a bit of gum …. 😆

  6. adinparadise says:

    Yucky eeuw!! This wall must be crawling with trillions of bacteria. 😯

  7. Amy says:

    That’s just kind of disgusting, although I do love the color!

  8. This reminds me of the love padlock bridge in Koln. Less disgusting but equally amazing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cclontz/6224079418/

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh I’ve heard about that, but never found it when I was in Koln.

      • Too bad 😦 It’s on the railway bridge that passes the Rhine at the height of the Dom cathedral. The best part is seeing married couples over 30 or even 40, scouring the bridge to find the padlock they put there when they came to Koln on a romantic weekend in their early twenties. Archaeology of love.

  9. coti says:

    Gross and awesome all at the same time.

  10. Oh my gosh, I’ve been in that part of Seattle many times and I’ve never even heard of this! Thanks for bringing it to my attention… haha. It’s gross yet weirdly pretty!

  11. That is disgusting. It’s cool, but disgusting. Do not lean against this wall!

  12. Thanks for the photograph – looks incredible – but best viewed from afar!

  13. Lynette says:

    Glad you like our wall. Have you seen the troll under the Fremont Bridge? Very cool!

    • ailsapm says:

      I have, he rocks. I love Fremont, there’s so much to see and do there, it never gets old. Also, every time I venture down to Fremont, there seem to be people running around in their underwear for some event or other. Got to love the Fremont spirit! 🙂

  14. thephotoseye says:

    This is the strangest I have seen in quite some time! Great photos!

  15. Great Photos! My husband and I were in Seattle this past summer and LOVED it. A wonderful city with so much to see.

  16. Judy Lesko says:

    Somone (wearing gloves) needs to stick on yellow tape that reads BIOHAZARD!

  17. Margaret says:

    The gum wall is definitely a visual experience! Last time I was there I saw a marriage proposal written in gum.

  18. I’m so glad you used the word ‘gruesome’ in that post. Your depiction is excellent. And while I do find it revolting (goes along with chewing your gum with your mouth open), it’s probably not all that unhygienic at this stage. The UV rays from the sun will have radiated the germs out of it. Of course who knows what’s crawling in there… UGH!

    • ailsapm says:

      Every time I pass by I see people sticking new batches of gum everywhere, so I suspect the germs are being replenished on a regular basis 🙂

      • My daughter’s friend visited there recently. She came back with the information that it’s the 2nd most unsanitary tourist attraction behind the Blarney Stone – definitely won’t be kissing either (and I’m the furthest thing from a germophobe! LOL)

  19. This is both disgusting and fascinating. I actually like it. In Montreal there is a museum, the name escapes me, that gives dated stickers to visitors to show that they paid to get in. They don’t have any trash bins by the exit so that visitors can get rid of their stickers. A few light poles away from the museum, just out of view from it, there are thousands of stickers stuck to the pole, so thick that they obscure the fluting of the pole. This reminds me of that, only less hygenically so.

    • ailsapm says:

      I’ll make a point of looking for that pole if I’m in the Montreal area. Not quite as germ-ridden, that’s for sure. 🙂

  20. Kyle Kuns says:

    Interesting and I’m happy it exists. However it is something the world only needs one of.

  21. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Disgusting, gruesome and hilarious! but where will it end?

    • ailsapm says:

      Who knows? There’s a sign on the opposite wall that says ‘no gum this side’ – it was almost covered over with gum the day I was there!

  22. Tina Schell says:

    Totally gross!!!

  23. joanfrankham says:

    colours are great..but the thought of all that gum….yuk!

  24. I don’t know whether to add this to my list of places I must see or be really grossed out. Visually, it is quite a sight as long as I don’t think about it too much.

  25. Su Leslie says:

    Ew! That is so deliciously gross.

  26. globetrottermama says:

    Disturbingly pretty!

  27. dadirri7 says:

    how extraordinary ailsa, and gruesome … only in america!

  28. Totally disgusting, yuck, yuck, yuck!!!

  29. Cee Neuner says:

    How gross, but oh so fascinating at the same time. Love your photos.

  30. Amy says:

    I agree with everyone…keep a good distance..

  31. We often go down to the market, and sometimes visit the Gum Wall, but not for long. It’s morbidly grotesque, and very compelling. But we can’t look for too long–sort of like looking straight into the sun.

  32. Revolting….. yuk!

  33. valens87 says:

    A form of art infused with an encyclopaedic amount of germs! It sounds… ahaha I have no words XD

  34. How fun! All that DNA stuck all around. Pretty colorful stuff….probably will last past the next ice age?

  35. megtraveling says:

    I can’t believe I missed that at Pike Place Market!

  36. Trish says:

    Gross. There are too many weird people in the world.

  37. lignumdraco says:

    Are there many ants or other insects attracted to the gum?

  38. Andrea J. says:

    This is gross but pretty awesome at the same time. If I ever make it back to Seattle I have to see this!

  39. That is so gross, but incredibly fascinating at the same time! I love the colors!

  40. pinkpodster says:

    This is completely nasty and awesomesauce at the same time! Can’t believe it’s not ant or bee infested. Surely this needs to be in the Guinness Book of World Records.

  41. pinkpodster says:

    Reblogged this on Pinkpodster Ponders and commented:
    I was so fascinated by this “art”, that I had to repost this. It certainly is a good fit for this week’s photo challenge: color.

  42. Made me laugh. Don’t remember seeing this when I was in Seattle several years ago. Thanks.

  43. mithriluna says:

    That is so gross, it made me laugh. 🙂

  44. Gemma says:

    Eeeewwwwww! And YUCK! Germy, but funny. 😉

  45. bebs1 says:

    Eeeeew too! Yuck. Maybe it gets a little cleaner when it rains. LOL

  46. colormusing says:

    I actually saw this in person a couple of months ago! One of those “only in Seattle” things. ; )

  47. Deb Gale says:

    Wow…that’s disgustingly cool!

Comments are closed.