The Spots on the Sidewalk


Next time you walk down the street, take a look down. See the spots? That’s gum, pressed into the pavement by thousands of footsteps. I normally don’t pay them much notice but, now that I think of it, they’re a good indication of how busy a particular stretch a sidewalk is. The more pedestrians that use it, the more discarded rubbish and, consequently, the more black spots.

“Hardened gum underfoot is undeniably an urban hallmark,” wrote Deborah Stead in a 2003 article that appeared in the New York Times. (What paper other than the Times would devote space to a 2,250-word article on sidewalk spots?) “The bigger and denser the city, the more the gum, which may make New York the gum splotch capital of the world.” In Montreal, the area with the most gum spots is undoubtedly Ste. Catherine St., especially around the big shopping malls between University and Peel, where people linger on the sidewalk.

But what about other areas? I can’t recall if there are a lot of spots on other busy streets like, say, Côte des Neiges Road, or Mount Royal Avenue. Does Montreal have a spot-cleaning program? The impetus for the Times article was a new service, Gumbusters, hired by the City of New York to “vaporize” gum spots off the sidewalk. With Montreal’s born-again dedication to cleanliness, though, who knows?

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Wednesday September 19 2007at 09:09 pm , filed under Canada, Public Space, United States and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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