NPR logo The Flavor is Gone

City Living

The Flavor is Gone


Out of our mouths and into our hearts. Jordan/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption Jordan/Flickr

The Gum Tree is no more. For decades, Philadelphians took the chewed gum from their mouths and affixed it to a tree outside the cheesesteak joint Ishkabibble's. Why? No one knows, and it doesn't matter. What matters is that the gross and beloved monument is now gone, the victim of renovations to its South Street home.

The tragedy got us thinking: what other unlikely landmarks are out there? These are monuments that weren't meant to be monuments, but somehow everyone in a community came to know and love them. Do you have one in your neighborhood? Let us know.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

That's disgusting! It's a shame, but not that much of a shame. You know what I'm sayin'?

Sent by Nathan in Holland | 11:15 AM | 6-23-2008

Trees and street signs can serve the purpose as a crutch to stop a fall or stumble. In such event I found myself in the position to either clutch onto the gum tree or suffer a head injury - I might suffer the injury.

Sent by Jeff | 2:10 PM | 6-23-2008

Back to the local landmark issue: my hometown in suburban Chicago had a funeral home which had an 9-hole indoor miniature golf course. The course had a death-and-dying theme to each one of the holes. Supposedly, the owner didn't allow anyone to play the course while a wake or a funeral was in attendance, but, if one of the dearly departed's family members wanted to "grieve in their own way," he allowed it.

Of course, after notoriety came via's page 6, the owner closed the golf course. No more slabbing Dracula on the par 4 #3.

Sent by Matthew C. Scallon | 2:36 PM | 6-23-2008

Centerville, OH, has the Monkey House at Stubbs Park. It's pretty cool and also a little weird. No monkeys are housed in it now, but it used to house them as well as a gentleman who lived in the second story of the hexagonal building. Here's the link:

Sent by T. Weiss | 4:16 PM | 6-23-2008

I was devastated to see the East Village's Tower of Toys in a dumpster when i walked by about a month ago:

Sent by Josh Rogosin | 6:09 PM | 6-23-2008

There's a road on the NC/TN border, near Fontana Dam, that's's called the Dragon (formally Hwy 129 - Deal's Gap). 11 miles 318 turns. Motorcyclists challenge the Dragon all the time...and frequently get bitten. At the bottom of the Dragon is Deal's Gap Motor Cycle Resort. In the parking lot is the Tree of Shame - hanging on it are all kinds of bike and car parts from people who have been bitten by the Dragon.

Sent by Julie in North Carolina | 10:21 PM | 6-23-2008

Does the biggest ball of twine made by one man in the next town over count? Cause that's all I've got. They built a pagoda over it and celebrate Twine Ball Days, a one-day festival, each year.

Sent by Emily | 11:25 PM | 6-23-2008

We actually used to have a gum tree in Denver at the former Elitch Garden's Amusement Park (the original, not the megamonster you now see downtown).

Basically, one of the most popular attractions was the log ride. You had to wait in line FOREVER (says my elementary school age self) and you knew you were getting closer when you reached the gum tree where everyone waited to stick their bubblegum on it and marvel at the gross madness of it all.

Then, when you finally reached the end of the line, you climbed into a log shaped seat floating in water and were magically pulled through faux mining scenes. The highlight was being pulled up a giant "slide" type thing and barreling down the other side with water splashing all over. It was so sad to see the old Elitch's disappear.

Sent by April | 11:23 AM | 6-24-2008

When you pay for admission at Austin's Blanton Art Museum, you're given a sticker stating the validity of your presence that you are instructed to wear on your lapel. However, when people are finished gawking at art, outside the museum is a street light pole that is layered several times over. Here's a pic I took:

Sent by Spamboy | 1:59 PM | 6-24-2008

Tragedy! Somewhere I have a picture of my sister and I in front of this tree affixing ours.

Sent by Myma | 2:03 PM | 6-24-2008

I'd just like to mention that gum has got to be one of the only things we put into our mouths that has *that much* color variation.

Sent by David N | 6:44 AM | 6-26-2008

cadillac ranch in texas! it's a cadillac graveyard, and totally amazing. something to stop and take pictures of on a road trip.

Sent by guinnevere | 9:55 AM | 6-26-2008

I was listening!!....thanks for reading my post, I've got my 15 second of fame now!

We go challenge the Dragon every year at Minis on the Dragon. Mini Cooper owners come from all over the USA and Canada for this awesome event. This year, a guy from Canada flipped his 2 week old Mini on the Dragon, yeouch!Luckily of the 400 or so Minis at this year's event, only 2 crashed. We had a great time driving the Dragon this year..although I've not been allowed to drive it yet - I've been relegated to the navigator seat.
The Dragon is a favorite with the motorcycle crowd, but too many of them try to play MotoGP and end up with "No Gain and a Lot of Pain". There are tons of videos on Youtube showing just how nasty the Dragon bites.
Here are a few of the pix I've taken of the Tree of Shame.

Sent by Julie in North Carolina | 12:32 PM | 6-26-2008

Boulder has set up a place where people can go to deposit and reclaim shoes, wallets, gloves, and other items that have been redistributed by the local foxes:

Sent by Dave Wiley | 2:06 PM | 6-27-2008

In the unexpected landmarks vein... the Flame of Liberty at the place de l'Alma in Paris. Flowers, etc. are still left in honor of Diana.

"The Flame of Liberty (Flamme de la Libert??) in Paris is a full size, gold leaf covered, replica of the flame carried in the hand of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. It was given to the city of Paris by the International Herald Tribune on behalf of donors as part of the newspaper's centennial celebrations in 1987. It is located near the northern end of the Pont de l'Alma on the Place de l'Alma in Paris."

For several years, the public fly-posted the base with commemorative material in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales, because the memorial is very close to the tunnel where she died. The material has since been removed by the French authorities. However, it is still regarded by many as an unofficial memorial to the late princess.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 10:52 AM | 7-4-2008