Many Seattle-ites and those visiting Seattle love to take in the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of Pike Place Market – to browse the homemade arts and crafts, local photography, farmer’s stands, unique little shops; smell the fresh seafood and produce; listen and watch the talented street musicians; and taste amazing foods from longstanding restaurants and bakeries that have perfected their food making to an art. Each time I visit Pike Place Market I love trying out a different bakery or specialty food and I always see and experience something new and exciting.
There are so many hidden gems in Pike Place Market alone that give Seattle its unique flavor. One such place is the Gum Wall. It’s found in a brick alleyway only a stair walk down from the infamous Pike Place Market sign, Rachel the bronze pig, and fish throwing stand. However, I’ve been surprised to hear how many people that I know who have never visited the Gum Wall, those native to Seattle included.
This Seattle landmark is a wall that is covered in chewing gum 8 feet high for 54 feet and parts of the wall are several inches thick (according to their Facebook page). There are over 50 pieces of gum per brick or over 250,000 wads of gum on the wall, and deservedly was listed in CNN’s top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009! The building belongs to Unexpected Productions’ Market Theater, an improv comedy company that still runs today. Starting in 1993, those waiting in line in front of the theater would place their gum on the wall with a coin stuck to it. The owner had the building cleaned – twice – but gave up after realizing it was becoming a tradition. The coins were lost (shall I say taken) with harder economic times but the tradition of the gum stuck (pun intended). Now the wall has become a Seattle Pike Place Market attraction.
Every time I visit the wall, there are people posing in front, taking pictures and adding their own slimy gum to the wall. I visited last weekend with my parents and took my 11 month old son to see the Gum Wall for the first time (as shown in the picture below). Now he can say he’s a true Seattle-ite!
If you have yet to experience the Gum Wall tradition, next time you’re in Pike Place Market, look to the left of Rachel the pig and venture down those stairs to Post Alley. And don’t forget to bring a stick of gum!