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.  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 in a kaleidoscope of colors.  Some 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, 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. Steam was chosen 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.  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 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 (186)
  • hunters-lam
    11/18/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    The people will gain the market back but the people who spent the time sticking all their gum to the wall will not be very happy and keep sticking the gum to the wall.

  • gavinm-lam
    11/18/2015 - 10:39 a.m.

    I think it is fascinating on how they made a "historical monument" about gum. Although I disagree on taking the gum off the wall it is creating a rat problem.

  • lillyd-lam
    11/18/2015 - 11:42 a.m.

    This is so interesting yet unsanitary at the same time. I have never heard of this so called gum wall and I think it is a new creative way to show the history of the people in that area. It is a small misplacement that turned in to a "sticky" work of art.

  • nickh-ver
    11/18/2015 - 01:18 p.m.

    This is kinda disapointing that they would wash off one of Seattles iconic land marks and history. although I've never seen it in person but the pictures look really cool. I hope people will start sticking gum to the wall once again

  • jasonf-lam
    11/18/2015 - 02:18 p.m.

    I think despite the fact that the gum wall was a tourist attraction and probably helped boost business that if it did attract animals such as rats that could be unhealthy for customers, and employees, and it could spread diseases within the products.

  • drewh-lam
    11/18/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    I think that this is a very bad idea because everyone loves putting their gum on the fall, and the gum that is put on the wall is a big piece of history because people have been doing it for 20 years and people will probably start putting gum on the wall after they are done cleaning it,because they have done it in the past. So technically they are wasting money because people are probably going to do it again and the people who are taking it down are destroying history.

  • tiffanyf-1-bar
    11/18/2015 - 08:11 p.m.

    "The market is famous for the gum wall. But it also draws rats," said Zoe Freeman. The removal of the gum on the wall will ensure, that diseases and germs will not be spread by the rats attracted to the wall. Pike Place Market (the building with the wall) will gain more customers and business from the removal of the rat magnet. On the other hand, thousands of memories will be lost. Each gum holds a piece of history for a specific person. A tradition that's been occurring for 20 years will be destroyed. I think its interesting how the tourists and locals have created a wall of gum that's now thought of as a historical icon.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    11/18/2015 - 09:22 p.m.

    I think that it is amazing for a wall to have made millions of people place gum on the wall. I think that it would be too depressing for the long history of gum to disappear. Hopefully, the next history will be made on the same wall.

  • carlosp-6-bar
    11/18/2015 - 09:33 p.m.

    I think that by removing the gum from the wall it would make the place a cleaner place and not attract rats but that would be the only good thing that would happen if they took it down. I think that if they took the gum off the wall there would be many losses because like in paragraph six it says "It's an icon. It's history," and "The market is famous for the gum wall." so if they took down the famous gum wall the market would also go dow and many people would loose there jobs because it is a tourist attraction and that is where the market gets there money and its just a really cool thing to go and see something unique like that. I think this article is okay but I think that they shouldn't take the gum wall down and ruin history instead they should make it into a special place and have restaurants and other things for the tourists to see.

  • carsonb-2-bar
    11/18/2015 - 10:51 p.m.

    Removing the 2,200 pounds of gum that has accumulated over the past 20 years we help keep the rats away. It's probably a healthy decision. Removing the gum will take away the history and memories from the Pike Place Market.

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