Colombian City Opens 28-Story Outdoor Escalator

Residents of the notoriously crime-ridden neighborhood will be spared a 35-minute stair hike.

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Raul Arboleda / AFP / Getty Images

General view of the escalators at Comuna 13 neighborhood in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on December 26, 2011, the day of their inauguration.

Taking the stairs was never this easy. Residents of Medellin, Colombia took their inaugural climb this week on what may be the world’s tallest outdoor escalator, a 28-story electric stairway up a steep hillside serving 12,000 residents.

Previously, residents of the Comuna 13 neighborhood had to climb hundreds of steps, but now one of the poorest areas in Colombia’s second-largest city will serve as an example to neighboring countries on how to perch the escalator machinery on the sides of rocky walls.

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What was once a 35-minute hike up has turned into a six-minute leisurely ride up 1,260 feet, free of cost. Plus, a second escalator sends you right back down. And all for just $6.7 million.

The scenic climb that affords views of the town below is broken into six sections, which include switchbacks that help keep the climb all in easy view.

Colombian officials tell the Associated Press that the new civic investment should help quell the violent reputation of the area and turn the neighborhood into a proud national destination. With officials from Rio de Janeiro already planning a trip to check out the possibility of mimicking the escalator, maybe the newfound awareness will turn violence into a thing of the past in Comuna 13. (And if the thing breaks, no worries — it can only become stairs.)

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