9 Weird Facts About Seattle's Gum Wall

While Portland, Oregon, to the south really promotes its weirder side, Seattle doesn’t always, most often viewed as a tech and industry hub with an outdoorsy side. But it’s a fact. Seattle is a little bit quirky. Case and point, Seattle has some pretty quirky attractions, chief among them perhaps the Seattle Gum Wall.

If you haven’t heard of it, the Gum Wall is exactly what it sounds like. A wall. Covered in chewed gum. It’s a bit (okay, a lot) gross. It’s interactive. It’s fairly unique. Best of all, it’s not off the beaten path so you don’t have to go out of your way to view this icky attraction and there’s no time wasted if it’s just not your thing. Most people take the ickiness in stride, grab a photo op and move on. And truth be told, this is an excellent spot for photos with a colorful and unique backdrop, or a cool perspective shot with gum sculptures in the foreground.

The Seattle Gum Wall is located just outside the main entrance to Pike Place Market. Go down the ramp on Pike...MORE Street (on the other side of Pike Place Nuts if you’re right at the entrance) and hang a left. You’ll spot the gum immediately from there.

  • 01 of 09

    It's been gummy for more than 20 years.

    Seattle Gum Wall
    ••• Byron Park/Eye Em / Getty Images

    The Seattle Gum Wall has been gathering gum since the early 1990s. The tradition began when people waiting for shows at nearby Unexpected Productions would stick gum to the wall and coins to the gum (you won’t see a lot of coins on the wall these days, just gum). Theater workers tried to keep the wall clean, but it didn’t work. The gum stuck—literally.

  • 02 of 09

    It's not very clean.

    Seattle Gum Wall
    ••• Charles Bowes/Eye Em / Getty Images

    Up until November 2015, the gum wall had never been cleaned, meaning there was more than 20 years of gum stuck to the brick facade. Yes, it was (and is!) a bit gross. Before that point, there were spots in the wall where the gum was several inches thick!

  • 03 of 09

    It's about 50 feet long!

    Gum Wall Photos
    ••• John & Lisa Merrill/Getty Images

    You might envision that the gum wall is just a small strip of wall next to a theater entrance. Think again. Gum spans along an alley wall for more than 50 feet. While most of the gum is within the average person’s arm reach, some can be impressively high up on the wall.

  • 04 of 09

    It did get cleaned one time (but just the once).

    Seattle Photo Op
    ••• jin chu ferrer/Getty Images

    In 2015, the wall got stripped all the way down to its original brick and steam cleaned to help preserve the brick underneath. The work took 130 hours and 2,350 pounds of gum old and new were scraped away. However, once the cleaning was done, visitors quickly began adding gum to the wall again. If you visit today, you might never guess the wall was cleaned at all. It’s as gummy and icky as ever.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    It's really gross.

    The Seattle Gum Wall made a list of the top five germiest tourist attractions in 2009, second only to the Blarney Stone, which actually involves putting your lips onto a surface. People don’t generally put anything other than their fingertips on the Seattle Gum Wall, and if you see anyone kissing this wall, advise them to stop!

  • 06 of 09

    You can make a gum design.

    Gum designs
    ••• Thomas Janisch/Getty Images

    While many people opt to stick a wad of chewed gum to the wall, other folks get pretty creative with their contributions. You’ll see plenty of designs in the gum—people spelling their names in gum, peace signs, hearts, stars and other designs. If you’re looking for a good photo op, look for one of these designs as it’s not every day you see a gum-constructed peace sign.

  • 07 of 09

    It's just one of several weird attractions in Seattle.

    The gum wall is one of a handful of weird attractions in Seattle, but it’s probably the grossest. If the wall of gum just isn’t enough for you, also consider a visit to the Fremont Troll, the Fremont Rocket or the actual communist statue of Lenin (all in Fremont).

  • 08 of 09

    It's not the only gum wall in America.

    Adding gum to the wall
    ••• Peggy Price/Eye Em / Getty Images

    You might think that the Seattle Gum Wall is the only gum wall, but you’d be wrong. There are a couple of others. Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo is the other gum wall that most people may have heard of, but there’s also a gum wall in Greenville, Ohio.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    You can join in the fun. Bring your gum!

    If the gum wall moves you to contribute, you’re completely free to bring some gum along and leave your mark. You just might also want to bring along some hand sanitizer if you do.