PORTLAND, Oregon — It almost seems as if the city of Portland is getting taken over by graffiti — graffiti that at times stretches high above downtown, like at the historic Jackson Tower building.
Jackson Tower is the clocktower building that overlooks Pioneer Courthouse Square. The task to clean the 12-story building isn’t an easy one, but with the help of mountain climbing gear it’s going to get done.
The building has been getting hit by vandals spraying it with graffiti for the last couple of years. Now Paul Watts, the owner of Graffiti Removal Services, has been hired by the city of Portland to clean up the graffiti.
“The longer it stays up, the more tagging that will appear,” said Watts.
The city has seen a spike of complaints about graffiti over the years.
- 2020: 897 complaints
- 2021: 2,117 complaints
- 2022: 5,260 complaints
- 2023: 2,193 complaints so far
Photos: Graffiti removal at Jackson Tower
Watts isn’t afraid of heights to do this job. In order to do it, he has to use rock climbing gear.
“What we’re going to do now is put me in a harness and then step outside of a window ledge. We’re going to harness down the building and remove it by hand,” said Watts.
In some parts of the building the job is a little easier, where they just have to put on a fresh coat of paint.
So how does someone climb 140 feet and vandalize a building with graffiti? Watts says that they climb the fire escape by throwing a grappling hook in order to bring the ladder down and climb up that way.
Another contractor that is also working with the city is coming out to barricade off some areas so people can’t access the building.
As Watts and his crew scrubs tirelessly, he knows their work will pay off in the end.