Seattle Gum Wall Is Getting A Scrubbing – The City Won’t Ban The Dirty Practice Of Sticking Gum On Walls Though

Seattle’s Gum Wall is about to get a good scrubbing. Though the Pike Place Market’s rather yucky attraction will be cleaned, city officials haven’t decided to ban the practice of sticking chewed gum on the wall.

The famed Gum Wall at Seattle’s Pike Place Market will soon rid itself of the sticky mess after nearly two decades. The wall endured the random adhesion of chewing gum from passers-by, all in the name of public art, but now the city officials have determined it should be cleaned. Oddly though, there will no provisions or regulations to prevent people from sticking gum on the walls again.

Folks at Pike Place Market in Seattle estimate people have stuck more than a million pieces of gum to the wall, which stretches eight feet high and 54 feet wide. Simple math indicates there must be about 150 pieces of gum per brick, reported King5 News.

Seattle’s Gum Wall, which is bound to make anybody who cherishes cleanliness queasy, started in the early 1990s. Though the exact origins are debatable, local historians claim the practice of sticking chewed pieces of gum randomly on the brick-and-mortar wall began when patrons of the nearby Unexpected Productions Theater started sticking their gum on the wall. The line to enter the theater was often long, and perhaps bored out of their wits, patrons attempted to amuse themselves with the weird practice.

Once news about Seattle’s Gum Wall spread, quite a few visitors have used multiple wads of gum to spell out messages or draw art. Incidentally, the Gum Wall has been expanding in the sense that gum has started to appear on surfaces that are “far beyond the original wall.” The practice has been going on for about two decades, but only now have the Seattle authorities decided to clean the wall completely.

Interestingly, it is not a concern for germs or hygiene that has the Pike Place Market worried. Owners of the place are merely concerned about the impact the gum, or more specifically, the sugar in it, has on the wall’s integrity. Apparently, the sugar in the gum is steadily deteriorating the bricks, causing them to slowly crumble away. Incidentally, before the cleanup begins, the market is even hosting a photo contest, in which interested photographers can submit photos of the Gum Wall. The winner of the contest will have his or her name engraved on a charm that will be permanently affixed on the newly cleaned wall, reported Inlander.

Emily Crawford, a spokeswoman for the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority (PDA), stated the gum wall is cleaned “every other month” by the PDA with a steamer. However, this is the first time that the administration has decided to rid the wall completely of gum. The contractor that the PDA hired to clear the wall will be using a high-pressure steam machine, the likes of which are used in the industries to clear highly sticky material.

Essentially, a high-pressure washer will blast the wall with 280-degree steam. This should loosen the gum and cause it to fall to the ground. Then workers will scrap up the fallen gum with shovels and load them into five-gallon buckets, reported Seattle Times.

The weird practice of sticking gum on the wall and the resulting cleanup is expected to cost $4,000. Crawford confirmed that the Seattle Gum Wall will be cleaned starting Tuesday, November 10. Despite the rather costly endeavor, the authorities won’t stop a re-occurrence of the unhygienic practice, admitted Crawford,

“We’re not saying it can’t come back. We need to wipe the canvas clean and keep fresh.”

The PDA is “hopeful” that a clean wall may act as a deterrent for those who are looking to stick a piece of gum on it. Do you think Seattle Gum Wall needs to go for good?

[Photo by Jordan Siemens / Getty Images]