Every city has that one street either nobody wants to live on, or everybody wants to live on. In San Francisco, Lombard Street, or the World’s Crookedest Street, is that desirable street. Halfway across the world in Dunedin, New Zealand, Baldwin Street is the dreaded opposite. The complete reverse of Lombard Street, Baldwin Street is perfectly straight with just one twist:
It’s the World’s Steepest Street.
Baldwin Street sits at an angle of 38 degrees, the steepness of the street being completely accidental. As the town was being laid out during the mid 1900s, the builders paid no attention to the terrain, merely laying out the grid of the streets. Street planners from London, who had no clue of the city’s topography, had developed the grid.
To most kids, this might seem like a great place to ride your bike down. In reality, it is really dangerous. A nineteen-year-old student died while riding down the road inside of a trash can, dying on impact as it smashed into a trailer. Besides being dangerous, this road takes a toll on the residents’ cars, forcing the vehicles up this sharp incline multiple times a day.
I would hate to be the kid who walks home from school and lives at the top of Baldwin Street. You can considerably feel the steepness of the road as you walk up the street, calves burning with each step, not to mention with a heavy pack on your back.
After walking up this Guinness World Record worthy street, certificates are sold at the bottom of the road for those strong enough to climb to the top, or anybody who is willing to cough up two bucks. Baldwin Street may be special to the residents in Dunedin, but I prefer living on a street that isn’t leaning on its side.