Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The World’s Steepest Street (Dunedin, New Zealand)

Renown for having a sheep population which outnumbers humans by twenty to one, New Zealand is also home to the world's steepest street. In the delightfully English town of Dunedin on the South Island, Baldwin Street obtains a slope of 35 degrees 19 degrees or 35 percent (that is, travel less than three metres for a one metre vertical rise). It is proudly signposted with the superlative claim.

The explanation has it that town planners laid the city out with neat grid streets from the comfort of their desks in England with no regard for the terrain or natural obstacles or without having ever been to New Zealand. The steep portion of the road itself is concreted as asphalt could potentially run in the warmer summer months.

Every year in summer, there is a race to run up and down Baldwin Street and some even venture up on unicycles.


Ben said...

Wow, duon't know how I missed this when I went Dunedin!

Final_Transit said...

Very interesting!

Cecil Lee said...

Really? Now only I know that NZ has a human:sheep ratio of 1:20!!! I can't imagine when it is raining and a car coming down from the top! It must be real scary to people at the bottom! :)

Smorg said...

Unicycling up that steep a road sounds a quad-busting exercise indeed!

Mark H said...

@ben: Surprising place for the steepest street.

@cecil: At least it isn't very busy, being a dead-end.

@smorg: unicycling, period sounds a pretty silly and painful thing to do. One good wheel off a sensible ride.

Cuckoo said...

Yes, human:sheep ratio had amused me when I was there. Except for cities, we could see only sheep.

As Cecil said, this road looks quite dangerous for the people who are down there.

Mark H said...

@cuckoo: Probably is a bit dangerous being so steep. Imagine it in the rain.

Heather Dugan ("Footsteps") said...

I was in San Francisco last week which boasts the "crookedest" street (Lombard). Its hairpin turns were designed to slow down traffic on its 27% grade. 27% sounds a bit "minor league" now!
The race sounds like a fun challenge!

Mark H said...

@heather: Lombard Street is much prettier with its flower beds and famous car chases.

GMG said...

Amazing shot Mark! Bungee-jumping... ;)

Mark H said...

@GMG: Don't give the Kiwis any ideas - they bungee jump off anything now.

Rental Properties Christchurch said...

Thank you for this post. You should come visit New Zealand. Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island. There's a lot of interesting places you can go to. Love the blog. Keep it up!

Sherry Ott said...

I've been there - I think I made it halfway up the street before I just gave up. Super town!

Mark H said...

@rental properties ch'church: I certainly recommend NZ for travellers.

@sherry: I'm sadder than that - I drove up the hill and was surprised that it was much steeper than it appears from the bottom fo the street. Quite a novelty that seems a simple accident of design.

Anonymous said...

You made a mistake in the angle of the road. It is not 35 degrees it a 35% slope which translates to about 19 degrees.

Mark H said...

@anonymous: Thank you. Error has been corrected in the text.

Anonymous said...

The Steepest Streets In San Francisco
1. Bradford above Tompkins (41% grade)
2. Romolo between Vallejo and Fresno (37.5% grade)
3. Prentiss between Chapman and Powhattan (37% grade)
4. Nevada above Chapman (35% grade)
5. Baden above Mangels (34% grade) *
6. Ripley between Peralta and Alabama (31.5% grade)
7. 24th between De Haro and Rhode Island (31.5% grade)
8. Filbert between Hyde and Leavenworth (31.5% grade)
9. 22nd between Vicksburg and Church (31.5% grade)
10. Broadway above Taylor (31% grade)
11. 23rd above Carolina (31% grade)
Source: Stephen Von Worley and the Weather Sealed blog.
Notes: Ranked by maximum grade, as of February 2010.
Ties are broken by the length of maximum slope.
* Crude, single lane pseudo-street

Mark H said...

@anonymous: Thank you for your detailed list about some other candidates for steepest street (in SF). Like all these things, I suspect there is an amount of conjecture about which one is actually the steepest and want constitutes a street etc. Baldwin Street gets the award from the folks at the Guinness Book of Records.

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