Pike Place is Cleaning Up

Pike Place is an iconic farmer’s market located in Seattle. You probably know it as the place with the flying fish from Sleepless in Seattle.


You may also recognize their famous gum wall. Rumor has it the gum wall started in the early 1990s by bored movie-goers who would stick their gum to the wall as they waited in  line.

Sticky Stats

  • Over 1 million pieces of gum
  • 20+ years old
  • Over 100,000 photos on Instagram
  • Once named world’s second-germiest tourist spot – after Ireland’s Blarney stone


Cleaning Time

Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority spokeswoman Emily Crawford said the gum has to go.

Gum is made of chemicals, sugar, additives. Things that aren’t good for us. I can’t imagine it’s good for brick.

The company that is handling the cleaning says it will use an industrial strength steam machine to take care of business.

The machine will melt the gum with 280-degree steam; it will fall to the ground, and a two- to three-man crew will collect the gum in five-gallon buckets. This is probably the weirdest job we’ve done.

Fans of the gum shouldn’t fret. Sections of the wall have been cleaned before, only to have the gum accumulate again. Mercedes Carrabba, who owns Market Ghost Tours and Ghost Alley Espresso notes:

It’s like an organism — it grows back. Or like a lost limb, it returns.

Not  Alone

There are similar gum walls in the world. Take for instance Bubble Gum Alley San Luis Obispo, California.

The gum plastered to the brickwork in Bubblegum Alley has been spreading since the late 1950s. Additions have built up over the years and include a bright red face made from the sticky stuff. Visitors are welcome to add to the collection and some even sample some of the secondhand gum!