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Market Theater Gum Wall

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About the Artist/Site

For over twenty years visitors and residents deposited their chewed gum onto the side of a wall near the Pike Place Market on Seattle’s waterfront. The gum began to accumulate around 1993, as people waited in front of it to enter a nearby improvisational comedy club. Some stuck small coins into the blobs as well. At first the wall was regularly cleaned, until the theater owners and market officials realized that it had become a tourist attraction, and let the gum deposits remain. Estimates are that some million gobs of various colors and flavors were stuck onto the wall over the years, and in some areas the gum grew to a depth of several inches, ranging up to 15 feet high over the fifty-foot-long wall, and weighing some 2350 pounds. However, this weight, according to Pike Place officials, threatened the integrity of the 115-year-old brick wall, so on November 10, 2015, 260 degree water and garden rakes were used to scrape off the multiple layers.

Immediately before the cleanup, locals and visitors rushed to add their own chewed gum wads to the wall, taking selfies and spelling out their names or creating images in multicolored blobs. Almost immediately after the 130-hour cleaning project was completed, new gum wads were again being affixed to the wall; some of the first additions memorialized the attacks in Paris that same month.

Prior to its total cleaning, the Market Theater Gum Wall was voted one of the most germ-filled tourist attractions in the world, second only to the Blarney Stone in Ireland.

~Jo Farb Hernández



Map and site information

Post Alley
Seattle, Washington, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 47.609364 / -122.341293

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