Pike Place Market has a lot of places to visit. It really is a village you could spend weeks exploring and not see everything, but there are several can’t miss places. One of those places is The Gum Wall. The Gum Wall isn’t hard to find and it is a wonderfully gross thing to take in. In fact, it is the second dirtiest attraction in the world.*
Let’s start the journey. You walk down an alley and are confronted first with the intense smell of bubble gum. Not any of that double mint crap, but the big, juicy Bubblicious of your youth. The kind that would rot your teeth but you didn’t care, because the satisfaction you got from stuffing three pieces in your mouth and then blowing a bubble so big that when it popped it got stuck in your eyebrows was worth the trip to the dentist.
After the smell you will notice the crowds of people. Warning: There will be selfie sticks, accept it and move on, you are going to want a photo of this too.
Finally, you get to stand in front of the wall of gum. Not just a few pieces. It is literally a WALL of gum. If you could somehow dismantle the wall behind the gum, the gum would still stand up as a wall (this is in no way based in fact, it is just fun to imagine). People create art with gum. You can find business cards. You can even find a geocache hidden in there.
Don’t come without a stick of gum; you cannot come to the gum wall and not contribute, it is an unspoken rule. If you need gum, a number of places in the market can hook you up. Orange Dracula is our favorite. Depending on your level of germaphobia you might also want to come manned with anti-bacterial gel and/or rubber gloves.
Now, let’s get down to business (Mulan song? Anyone?). The Gum Wall is in an alley and if you don’t know your way around it can be tricky to find. Here is the best way to find it. Go to the corner of First Ave. and Pike St. (the main intersection in front of the entrance to Pike Place Market) and face the large, neon sign that says “Public Market Center.” You will see a road that goes down to the alley to the left of the main road. Take this road down and when you see Ghost Alley Coffee- turn left. From there you can’t miss it-follow the smell and the crowds!
Recently and tragically, the market said the brick was becoming unstable under the weight of the gum, so they power washed every last piece of gum off the wall. People have been adding to this gooey masterpiece since the early 1990s when the theater next door placed a sign stating “No Gum Allowed” outside the entrance. Visitors started sticking gum outside and it snowballed (or should I say GUMBALLED) from there. Fortunately for us, tourists and locals alike refused to let this institution in the city fade away after one cleaning. Just a few months after the power washers were rolled away the gum wall has come back in all its glory. So go check it out and add to the sticky, colorful mess!
*The Blarney Stone in Ireland wins the #1 most unsanitary tourist attraction. If people start kissing the Gum Wall we think we have a shot at taking the crown.