Crews Melt Gum Off Famous Seattle Wall : The Two-Way Using a steam cleaner, workers have begun to melt an estimated 1 million pieces of gum off the brick wall near Pike Place Market.
NPR logo Crews Melt Gum Off Famous Seattle Wall

Crews Melt Gum Off Famous Seattle Wall

Workers steam-clean decades of gum off Seattle's famous "gum wall" on Tuesday. Tourists and locals have been sticking chewing gum to the wall near Pike Place Market for 20 years, leaving an estimated 1 million pieces in a kaleidoscope of colors, some stretched and pinched into messages, hearts and other designs. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

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Elaine Thompson/AP

Workers steam-clean decades of gum off Seattle's famous "gum wall" on Tuesday. Tourists and locals have been sticking chewing gum to the wall near Pike Place Market for 20 years, leaving an estimated 1 million pieces in a kaleidoscope of colors, some stretched and pinched into messages, hearts and other designs.

Elaine Thompson/AP

One million pieces of gum, some of which are 20 years old, are being melted off the famous "gum wall" in Seattle.

Workers are using steam cleaners to loosen the hardened blobs from the Pike Place Market wall in order to restore the "the character [and] the history of the Market," Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority spokeswoman Emily Crawford said last week. The cleaning is slated to take three days to complete.

Crawford estimates there are about 2,200 pounds of gum on the walls, according to an Associated Press video. She adds that she'll be interested to see how close her guess is at the end of the week, after it has all been weighed.

As we previously reported, the history of the gum wall dates back to the early 1990s:

"NPR member station KUOW in Seattle reports that it began in 1991 when theater-goers started sticking their gum to the wall as they waited in line. It was once named the second-germiest tourist spot in the world behind Ireland's Blarney stone, and it has been featured on Instagram nearly 100,000 times."

Some may be sad to see the living art go, but if authorities are right, the wall won't be gum-free for long.

"We expect the gum to be back as soon as we're done cleaning," Crawford said.