Jan 24, 2024
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Baldwin Street, the Steepest Street in the World

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Situated in the residential suburb of North East Valley, 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) northeast of Dunedin’s central business district, Baldwin Street is a narrow, winding street that holds the remarkable distinction of being the steepest street in the world. With a gradient of 34.8%, meaning that for every 10 horizontal meters, the street gains 3.48 meters in elevation, Baldwin Street is a challenge for even the most seasoned hillwalkers.

Length350 m (1,150 ft)
LocationDunedin, New Zealand
Maximun gradient35 %

The street’s steepness is due to its location on the side of Signal Hill, a volcanic cone that dominates the Dunedin skyline. Baldwin Street was named after William Baldwin, an Otago Provincial Councillor and newspaper founder, who subdivided the area in the 1860s.

In 1987, Baldwin Street was officially recognized as the world’s steepest street by the Guinness Book of Records. This title was challenged in 2019 by Ffordd Pen Llech, a street in Harlech, Wales, with a gradient of 37.45%. However, after a formal review, Baldwin Street was reinstated as the world’s steepest street in 2020.

Tourist attraction

Today, Baldwin Street is a popular tourist attraction, and many visitors come to conquer the hill. There is even a Baldwin Street Challenge trophy that is awarded to the person who can walk up the street the fastest. The street is also a popular spot for photographers, who capture its unique beauty. Baldwin Street is a reminder of the natural forces that have shaped New Zealand’s landscape, and it is a testament to the ingenuity of the people who have built their homes on its slopes.

If you are ever in Dunedin, be sure to add Baldwin Street to your itinerary. It is a truly remarkable place that will leave you breathless.

The 2001 accident

There was a fatal accident on Baldwin Street in 2001. On February 16, 2001, a 26-year-old man was walking down Baldwin Street when he was struck by a car that was traveling uphill. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident was attributed to the steepness of the street, which made it difficult for the driver to control their vehicle.

Baldwin Street has a gradient of 34.8%, which means that for every 10 horizontal meters, the street gains 3.48 meters in elevation. This makes it the steepest streets in the world. The accident prompted the Dunedin City Council to review the safety of Baldwin Street. In 2002, the council installed a number of safety measures, including a chicane (a narrow, winding section of road) and a speed limit of 10 km/h (6 mph). The council also installed signage warning drivers of the steepness of the road.

The Steepest Street in the World & the Guinness controversy

In July 2019, Guinness World Records stripped Baldwin Street of its title as the world’s steepest street, awarding the title to Ffordd Pen Llech, a street in Harlech, Wales. This decision was met with much criticism from New Zealanders, who argued that the measurement method used by Guinness World Records was flawed.

The key issue was that Guinness World Records had measured Ffordd Pen Llech on the inside of a curve, which exaggerated its steepness. Baldwin Street, on the other hand, is straight. In response to the controversy, Dunedin surveyor Toby Stoff launched an appeal to have Baldwin Street’s title reinstated. Stoff argued that Guinness World Records should measure street gradients from the centerline of the road, rather than at any point along the sides.

In April 2020, Guinness World Records announced that it had reinstated Baldwin Street’s title as the world’s steepest street. The organization acknowledged that its original measurement method had been flawed and agreed to use the centerline method from now on. The decision was welcomed by residents of Baldwin Street and Dunedin as a victory for fairness. It also renewed the city’s claim to being the “Steepest Street in the World.”

Baldwin Street en Street View

Header pic Tristan Schmurr

Versión en español: Baldwin Street, la Calle más Empinada del Mundo

New Zealand · Oceania · Rankings

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