Crews have begun cleaning up Seattle's famed "gum wall" near Pike Place Market, where tourists and locals have been sticking their used chewing gum for the past 20 years. People first began sticking gum to the wall while waiting for shows at a nearby theater. Since then, the colorful "gum wall" has expanded to other brick walls in the alley, pipes and even the theater's box office window. It's estimated that there were about 1 million wads of gum that needed to be removed. Pike Place Market spokesperson Emily Crawford says based on her rough calculations, that equals about 2,200 pounds of gum. "We'll find out at the end of the week how right my guesstimate really is," she says.
Some of the gum pieces plastered to the walls have been molded into messages, hearts, and other shapes. People also use the gooey gobs to paste up pictures, business cards, and other mementos. Following a busy summer season, market leaders decided now was as good a time as any to wipe the wall clean and start fresh, Crawford says. Market officials hope to contain where people put their gum in the future but say they aren't holding their breath. The cleaning began Tuesday and is expected to take three days. (Read more tourist attraction stories.)