One of America's grossest tourist attractions is getting a scrub-down. Seattle's gum wall in Pike Place Market, which has been collecting wads of chewed gum for 20 years, will be reduced to plain old brick beginning Tuesday courtesy of a contractor with an industrial steam machine, reports the Seattle Times. The area's Preservation and Development Authority says the wall has attracted 1 million pieces of gum, spread eight feet high by 54 feet wide, and the gunk is six inches thick in spots, per KING 5. And though it's cleaned every other month with a light steaming, officials say it's time the gum is removed to preserve the Market district's historic buildings. Won't people just create a new gum wall? Probably, the PDA admits. But the hope is that it will be contained to the original wall, since the stuff has moved "far beyond," a rep says.
"Gum is made of chemicals, sugar, additives. Things that aren't good for us. I can't imagine it's good for brick," she adds. "It was never part of the charter or the history of the Market to have the walls covered with gum." The attraction actually started accidentally, when audience members waiting in line for a late night improv show at the Market Theater found the wall was a great place to leave their gum. "The wall is like the art that takes place behind it, constantly changing from the sharing of its participants. And, like a good improv story, has a beginning, middle and end," a rep for the improv theater troupe tells KIRO. "The wall is ready to start a new story. We are excited to see the new incarnation." Workers will use 280-degree steam to melt the gum, which will then be collected and weighed. (Click for more icky tourist attractions.)