Trivia

Hard

The Steepest Residential Street In The World Is Located In?

Dunedin, New Zealand
San Francisco, California
London, England
Honokaa, Hawaii
Photo of a house on Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world.
BjarteSorensen/Wikimedia

Answer: Dunedin, New Zealand

There are a number of places around the world where poor design, disregard for safety, happenstance, unyielding and unaccommodating terrain, or all of the above, have conspired to create roads with ridiculously steep inclines.

Among all the steep residential roads in the world, however, there is a stretch of residential street in Dunedin, New Zealand that you, I, and everyone else outside Dunedin should be happy we don’t have to subject ourselves (nor our brake pads) to.

There in Dunedin, you’ll find Baldwin Street, a 1,150 foot long street. Although the lower sections of the road are what one might consider just moderately steep (although still with a decent grade of around 20 percent), the street becomes increasingly steeper until, during its last 230 feet, it reaches a 35 percent grade. The incline of the street is so extreme that, as you can see from the photo here, the road appears to practically slice homes from corner to corner as it ascends.

So why make a road so long and so steep? We can chalk it up to distant bureaucracy. Back when Dunedin and, indeed, many parts of New Zealand were being laid out and organized by urban planners, the planners were thousands of miles away in London. The streets in Dunedin, for example, follow a fairly regular grid pattern with little to no regard for the extreme changes in elevation found around the city.

As final consideration and clarification on the matter, such a title as steepest residential street in the world is not, surprisingly, without controversy. Around the world, there are a handful of roads that have similar or, at very brief points, a slightly steeper grade than Baldwin Street.

There is, for example, a steep street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that has a grade slightly above Baldwin Street (but only for 21 feet or so), which is but a fraction of just the steepest portion of the entire plummeting run of Baldwin Street. As such, Baldwin Street is widely regarded (and officially so by the Guinness Book of Records) as the steepest street due to length, average grade, and length of peak grade.

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