Seattle removes a million pieces of gum from wall A worker uses a high-temperature pressure washer to clean layers of gum from Seattle's famous "gum wall" at Pike Place Market. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle removes a million pieces of gum from wall
Lexile

A piece of Seattle history is coming down - or rather, thousands of little pieces.
 
Crews are cleaning up the city's famed "gum wall" near Pike Place Market, where tourists and locals have been sticking their used chewing gum for the past 20 years.
 
The wall is plastered with wads of gum in a kaleidoscope of colors, some stretched and pinched into messages, hearts and other designs. People also have used the gooey gobs to paste up pictures, business cards and other mementos.
 
But powerful steam cleaners were melting it all off.
 
Emily Crawford, a Pike Place Market spokeswoman, said that following a busy summer season, market leaders decided now was as good a time as any to wipe the wall clean. But they expect people will start leaving gum on the space again soon.
 
"It's an icon. It's history," said Zoe Freeman, who works near Pike Place. "The market is famous for the gum wall. But it also draws rats."
 
Pike Place Market hired a contractor, Cascadian Building Maintenance, to take on the cleaning. They chose steam over pressure washing to conserve the historic market's brick walls.
 
A fruity, sweet smell wafted through the alley as workers in protective suits blasted the dried gum with moist air.
 
"I just hope that the citizens of Seattle don't hate me for removing the gum wall," said Kelly Foster, the contractor's general manager.
 
People first began smooshing their gum to the wall while waiting for shows at the nearby Market Theater. Since then, the "gum wall" has expanded beyond one wall and onto other walls of an alley, pipes and even the theater's box office window.
 
Crawford said the cleaning crew will collect and weigh the gum each day it is removed. The cleaning was expected to take three days.
 
By Crawford's rough calculation, there are about 2,200 pounds of gum on the walls.
 
"We'll find out at the end of the week how right my guesstimate really is," she said.
 
Market officials hope to contain where people put their gum in the future but say they aren't holding their breath.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What will be gained and lost by removing the gum?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (52)
  • robertb-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:24 a.m.

    It's crazy that a few pieces of gum turn into that! People should have been allowed to have done this for this long.

  • brandonc-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:26 a.m.

    I wonder why they removed the gum. I know that it attracted rodents, but it also said that it was part of Seattle's history. It's like taking the head off of the Lincoln Memorial. I also wonder when people first started putting gum on the wall.

  • heatherv-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:27 a.m.

    I find this piece interesting because it's a creative thing that a community shares, but also a little gross because every single piece on the wall had been inside a different person's mouth. I think it's good that they are removing it, but I agree with the fact that they cannot expect to keep the wall clean forever.

  • colline1-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:28 a.m.

    This "gum wall" is a part of our history and I don't believe that it should be taken down. It will take lots of unnecessary work to get rid of and people are going to put more gum on it anyway so there is no point in getting rid of the "gum wall". I feel that the gum wall will be a very cool place to visit.

  • elijahe-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:29 a.m.

    Even though this was basically a landmark, it shouldn't have a bunch of gum stuck to it. The gum attracts rodents, like rats, that are bad for businesses.

  • davidw1-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:29 a.m.

    Some things that might be gained are that there will be more space, for more pieces of gum. Another thing that might be gained, in opinion, is a less gross theater wall. Some things that might be lost is the attraction of rats. Another thing that might be lost is those photographs, that were stuck onto the wall with the gum. In either case, it is both a good and bad thing to remove the gum.

  • kbeatty-cel
    11/18/2015 - 09:53 a.m.

    The very first sentence is intriguing. It simply catches your attention to read more. I feel like people will be upset about this attraction being washed away, but it will solve a rat problem. People will probably begin putting their gum on it again. Plenty of information was put in this article, as well as using many sources, such as different people to get viewpoints.

  • serenao-lam
    11/18/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    Soon it will all continue, as they said it is a part of the history of Seattle. Though they are washing all the gum down it gives more opportunity to start again to continue the tradition.

  • audreyx-lam
    11/18/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    I really like how people created their own "mark" on something, and this attraction was created over time. Other attractions usually are created to have tourists visit them, but this one was created by the people for fun, and then became an attraction. I believe that is is a good idea to remove the gum, because of the rats. Also, there is 20 year old gum on the wall. The gum also spread onto a theater's box office window. People can start to build it up again, and maybe in 20 years they have to clean it up again.

  • charlees-lam
    11/18/2015 - 10:29 a.m.

    This was an interesting article. I didn't know there was a such thing as a "gum wall". I think many people will be disappointed, because it sounds like it was a huge tourist attraction, but I think it is a good thing. I can't imagine how much bacteria would be on a wall like that. The article also said it attracted rats. I think people will likely continue to put their ABC gum on the wall, since they had been doing it for over 20 years.

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