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Updated Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 11:46 PM

The gum wall: Germy wall and a healthy sense of humor

By Alan Berner /
Seattle Times staff photographer

This is not a TripAdvisor top-10 list you want to be on.

Runner-up status for world’s germiest tourist attraction goes to Seattle’s Gum Wall in Post Alley, second only to Ireland’s Blarney Stone.

It’s a form of people’s participatory art apparently started by improv Market Theatre-goers in the early 1990s, who thought better of sticking their gum under seats and started leaving it on the brick wall outside.

Over the years it’s grown vertically, horizontally and now is spreading to the wall on the west side of the alley, with gum stuck to the signs requesting “No Gum This Side, Thank You.”

Visiting Cal, Berkeley senior Jean Yang called it “community pointillism.”

The closer you get the more you see, though it’s not exactly Jackson Pollock.

There’s a wedding proposal from 170 pieces of gum: “Will You Marry Me Nikki J.”

There are business cards, coins, Chinese fortune-cookie fortunes, the Swedish and Brazilian flags, a 12th Man Seahawks tribute, gum wrappers and love notes.

The Pike Place Market estimates the wall holds 750,000 wads of gum. Its Preservation and Development Authority works to keep the 8-foot-high, 54-foot-wide curiosity from going too far.

Clearly, the germiest lists are not scientific.

The Gum Wall beat out Paris’ sewer tour and India’s Karni Mata Rat Temple.

Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or aberner@seattletimes.com


The Seattle Times
Jean Yang gets help from Ankur Dhar in adding a wad to the Gum Wall in Post Alley. Both are seniors at University of California, Berkeley.





Displays left in gum include a Swedish flag and a heart containing the name Clara. An estimated 750,000 gum wads are on the wall.




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