Greater City Providence

Like: Medellí­n Escalator


Photo from the Office of the Mayor, Medellin via Transportation Nation

Medellín, Columbia has installed this escalator as a form of public transit in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. As reported by the BBC, the escalator is built in 6 parts and climbs 1,260 feet. Before the $7million project the neighborhood’s residents spent on average a half hour to climb the hill; with the escalator the climb takes 5 minutes.

College Hill anyone?

And don’t forget, the best thing about an escalator is, “An escalator can never break–it can only become stairs. You would never see an ‘Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order’ sign, just ‘Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. We apologize for the fact that you can still get up there.'”

See also: Transportation Nation

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • This makes me realize that I don’t think I have ever seen an outdoor escalator. I think the closest I have seen are ones going down into metro stops like in DC but those are covered if not fully enclosed.

    I wonder if they break down a lot more or have maintenance problems outdoors.

  • I think the Pittsburgh Zoo has/had and outdoor one. I remember a big one there going up to the zoo from the parking lot, but that was many, many years ago (some time in the 80’s).

    Also, ski resorts have “magic carpets” which are basically conveyor belts going up the bunny slope for the beginners. Those are exposed to the elements (and often covered in snow). I am pretty sure they can weatherproof an escalator.

  • Las Vegas has outdoor sidewalk escalators to reach pedestrian bridges over various intersections of Las Vegas Blvd. But then it doesn’t rain often in Vegas.

  • I was just in DC and they had signs up saying they’re going to cover the metro entrances because the escalators weren’t designed to be exposed to the elements.

  • Looking at the Google satellite image of the Pittsburgh Zoo, I can see where the escalator is and it’s now covered (though it definitely was not when I was a kid).

    It’s quite possible to make an escalator that can be exposed to the elements. However, in a city like ours where we get ice and snow and rain, how safe would it be? It couldn’t be a standard metal step because those would be too slippery in rain, ice, or snow.

  • DC Metro is notorious for having their escalators not working, made all the more annoying for Washingtonians because their subway stations are like 2 miles below the surface of the Earth.

    When you think about it, even if covered, escalators need to be weather resistant, people drag in water and mud from rain and snow on their shoes even if the escalator is indoors. In WMATA’s case it may be that they hope covering the escalators will reduce the frequency of repairs, but they will still be exposed to water and mud through the feet of the people using them.

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