IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that while Baldwin Street just outside Dunedin in New Zealand is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world, there’s another in America that’s steeper.
But being closed to traffic, it is not recognised as such.
Baldwin Street in Dunedin’s North East Valley is just 350m long, has an average 35% gradient, and is open to anyone game enough to drive or walk it. Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the USA, however, has a steeper 37% gradient, but because it’s a mere 7m long and has signs warning “Do Not Enter,” is not recognised by Guinness as “a street.”
And if you are wondering how Baldwin Street came to be built so steeply back in the 1800s, it was because with no local town planners, developers of the new community had to ask a company in London to draw-up plans for their new suburb… and as no one in London thought to ask about the terrain, they simply planned streets in flat grid formation.
Visitors today also note that Baldwin is one of the few streets in North East Valley to be concrete sealed: that’s because when it was being built, it was feared that if bitumen-sealed, it could simply soften on hot days and slide down the hill.