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The Bubblegum Alley of San Luis Obispo

The “most talked-about landmark” of San Luis Obispo, California, the Bubblegum Alley is a 21 meter-long alley lined with chewed-up pieces of bubblegum.

The exact history of the Bubblegum Alley is unknown, but there are a few theories about how this sticky tradition began. Some say it started during World War II, as a graduating class event, while others are convinced it dates back to the 1950s, as the result of the rivalry between San Luis Obispo High-School and Cal Poly. Whatever its beginnings, by the 70s, Bubblegum Alley was already covered with plenty of gooey material.

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San Luis Obispo’s sticky attraction survived two full cleanings, during the 70s, when shop owners complained it was “disgusting and unsanitary”, but when another cleaning was proposed, in 1996, it was not accepted by local authorities. You’re bound to see pieces of gum, over 40-years-old, stuck in different shapes, from local fraternity symbols, to Week of Welcome (WoW) numbers and different letters.

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Store owners, local politicians, and even the town’s historian believe Bubblegum Alley to be an eyesore that should be hosed down for the good of San Luis Obispo. On the other hand, the Chamber of Commerce lists it as one of the town’s special attractions. One thing is for sure, Bubblegum Alley has faced scrapers, steam cleaners and fire hoses quite a few times, only to rise back to glory in just a few days. This attraction is here to stay.

[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]

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[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]

[Photo Credits]