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 are coming down.
 
Crews are cleaning up the city's famed "gum wall" near Pike Place Market.  Tourists and locals have been sticking their used chewing gum to it for the past 20 years.
 
The wall is plastered with wads of gum.  Now there is a rainbow of colors.  Some pieces are 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 is a Pike Place Market spokeswoman. She said 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 will take on the cleaning. Steam was chosen over pressure-washing to conserve the historic market's brick walls.
 
Workers in protective suits blasted the dried gum with moist air. A fruity, sweet smell wafted through the alley.
 
"I just hope that the citizens of Seattle don't hate me for removing the gum wall," said Kelly Foster.  He is 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. Now it's also on 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 (343)
  • oliviam-6-bar
    11/17/2015 - 07:30 p.m.

    I think it is safe to say that the gum wall in Seattle is very unsanitary. The article states "Workers in protective suits blasted the dried gum." The fact that the workers need to wear protective suits to clean the walls means that the old gum can not possibly be good for the citizens or tourists around the alley. Also, the gum on the wall is attracting little visitors as well as people.One line from the article states "But it also draws rats." Since the rats of Seattle are attracted to the gum, the neighboring market is also affected. The market must have a hard time getting business with all the surrounding rats infesting their food.

    Although the dirty gum wall is not very pleasing to some market vendors, the wall is a well known and a well loved tradition. The article states "Tourists and locals have been sticking their used chewing gum to it for the past 20 years." Since the gum has been sitting on a wall for many years, the locals have made it a very special and unique way to celebrate their home town. They have taken much pride in their gum wall as well. Also, the locals can not possibly be happy about the gum wall coming down because the article states "A piece of Seattle history is coming down. Or rather, thousands of little pieces are coming down." The citizens obviously think of their history when they think of the gum wall. It is not fair to take away their pride in the wall. At least in their point of view.

    • serenityc-ter
      11/19/2015 - 01:40 p.m.

      Wow! This gave me a lot more information about the story and you really did well on describing the passage. And i am with you on the rat investment deal, that just sounds so nasty!

      • heaven-gon
        12/07/2015 - 04:06 p.m.

        you are right about all that gum it is a lot of gum

    • luker-mcd
      11/25/2015 - 01:32 p.m.

      we could have filled the whole alley way with gum but people had to take it down

  • william1108-yyca
    11/17/2015 - 08:34 p.m.

    WOW! All those gums stuck on the wall must o taken a lot of time. I am sure that I don't want to clean all those up. And also not to just put gum on the walls. All the people who did that must never do it again. But it also looks gross.

  • ellans-1-bar
    11/17/2015 - 08:39 p.m.

    Removing the gum from the "gum wall" has ups and downs. An up side is stated in paragraph 5,"But it also draws rats." Removing the gum will decrease the rats around the wall. The downfalls are in paragraph 5, which states, "It's an icon. It's history," said Zoe Freeman, who works near Pike Place. "The market is famous for the gum wall." Also in paragraph 3, it states, "Now there is a rainbow of colors. Some pieces are 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." Removing the gum will not only get rid of the famous "gum wall" but also the memories and the history put into the wall. I believe it is a bad idea to take away the wall covered in gum, because it symbolizes the memories and meanings and history of the "gum wall."

    • aleeap-mcd
      11/25/2015 - 01:52 p.m.

      Very well explained. You could've explained it better and I completely agree but then again, I do go on to think about this on the other side of things. I personally (like you) think it's a bad idea to be taking down the wall for the sake of history and how long it took to build it up to this point but, emotions aside (for the historical aspect), it's understandable that some people would want it down because of the rats and everything...

    • lilyp-mor
      11/27/2015 - 04:13 p.m.

      I like how you did your own opinion and added evidence to support it. Also the quotes and the paragraph in which I could find them in. Good job!

  • John0724-YYCA
    11/17/2015 - 08:48 p.m.

    I really don't know why they even put the gum in the wall in the first place because it is nasty if you take a selfie of even if you go near it. What is wrong with people these days because this is not funny or cool but it is really disgusting. I bet that if I were supposed to go near that thing I would have not survived for five seconds.

  • tialden-1-bar
    11/17/2015 - 08:59 p.m.

    Something that'll be gained from removing this excessive amount of gum is that the marketplace will be much cleaner and rats will vacate the area. Also as stated in the article something that will be lost by removing this gum is a part of Seattle's history. After the gum is removed the cleanup committee hopes that people will not continue to put gum on the wall. I found this article relateable because I've visited this wall on vacation.

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