November 12, 2015
SEATTLE (AFP) - A gum-covered wall in the US city of Seattle that had become a major tourist draw is finally getting a cleanup after more than two decades, officials said Wednesday.
A three-man crew began removing the more than one million gum wads with high-pressure steam cleaners on Tuesday and were expected to finish the job on Thursday, Emily Crawford, a spokeswoman for Pike Place Market, where the infamous Gum Wall is located, told AFP.
She said the wall, started in an alley in 1991 by patrons of a nearby theater, had spread over the years as people sought space for their masticated mess.
"Visitors started wanting to find clean space to put their gum so instead of adding to the wall they would walk down the alley and find their own brick or clean space," Crawford said.
"It's very sticky and goopy and it has just gotten to the point where over the summer there was just so much gum down there that it's ending up on the alley floor and it has quite an odor."
Crawford added that while the much-photographed wall was colorful and drew visitors, it was also germ-infested.
"From a distance it can look colorful but once I'm close it repels me," she said. "Looking at a bunch of gum with a cigarette butt in it isn't very attractive."
Local artists have been invited to decorate the cleaned-up space on Saturday except for the area of the original brick Gum Wall, which will remain empty in order to welcome more gooey gum.
"We expect people to come back and contribute to the wall again and that's fun," Crawford said. "People love it."