Giant escalator installed in Colombian city of Medellin
- 27 December 2011
- From the section World
The Colombian city of Medellin has opened a giant outdoor escalator for residents of one of its poorest areas.
People living in the Comuna 13 district - which clings to a steep hillside - previously had to climb hundreds of steps to get home from the city centre.
The escalator is divided into six sections and ascends nearly 384m (1,260ft).
The mayor of Medellin says it is the first project of its kind in the world aimed specifically at the poor.
In the 1980s Medellin was known as the murder capital of the world and a major drug-trafficking centre, but in recent years it has undergone a renaissance.
The $7m (£4.5m) escalator is the latest in a series of transport infrastructure projects that are helping to transform the city.
It has a modern metro system, and some other hillside neighbourhoods are served by cable cars.
About 12,000 residents of Comuna 13 will benefit from the escalator, which is free to use and shortens a half-hour walk to about five minutes.
Previously they had to walk the equivalent of a 30-storey building to get to and from the city centre.
Comuna 13 remains one of Medellin's poorest and most violent neighbourhoods.
But the authorities hope the escalator - combined with other social projects - will help integrate its residents with the rest of the city and the wider economy.