Deep within the alleys of San Luis Obispo, Calif., layers upon layers of discarded chewing gum have evolved into a tourist attraction that would make any germophobe tremble in their boots. The sticky walls are known as “Bubblegum Alley,” one the quirkiest – and probably most saliva-filled– attractions in the U.S.
The true origins and intentions of Bubblegum Alley are up for debate, but the fact remains these gummy walls were a San Luis Obispo reality by the 1960s. Although the walls have been scraped clean several times over the decades, the gum-chewing masses have continued to find their way back to the walls of Bubblegum Alley. And today, you can walk through the gummy halls – or even leave your own chewy mark, if you dare.
Over the years, the alley has grown from a gross-out dive to a living art installation of sorts. Creative gum chewers are hardly content with simply tacking a wad onto the walls; instead, they use gum to spell out messages, create intricate designs or tack up objects like coins or gum wrappers. With countless visitors leaving their marks on a daily basis, Bubblegum Alley is never the same experience twice.
If the thought of adding your own gum wad is a little too much to stomach, you can always walk through without leaving a souvenir behind — or just get a glimpse from afar with these photos.
(Main image: Mark Fischer used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)