Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer


9 of the world's most extreme streets
By John Donovan,
Mother Nature Network, 29 March 2016.

The Champs-Elysees. Broadway. Downing Street. Hollywood Boulevard. Abbey Road. Bourbon Street. Fifth Avenue. Wall Street.

These are some of the most iconic thoroughfares in the world, but they aren't necessarily the highest. Or the steepest. Or the longest. Or even the shortest.

Here are some of the world's most distinct roads (including the Atlanterhavsveien in Norway, shown above), a collection of avenues, drives and highways that are some of the world's most superlative streets.

1. The steepest: Baldwin Street

Photo: James Dignan/Wikimedia Commons

A bit of an argument rages on this one - folks get pretty territorial - but it all comes (rolls?) down between the United States and New Zealand. Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand (above), runs for more than 1,000 feet, much of it at an incline of 35 percent. Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has an incline of 37 percent - but for only a few feet.

Regardless of which street you're on, if you're parking, turn the wheels into the curb. And set the emergency brake.

2. The longest: The Pan-American Highway

Photo: Angelica Jacobi/Wikimedia Commons

The Pan-American Highway winds some 20,000 miles through 17 countries, from the tip of North America in a small town in Alaska to the tip of South America in a small town in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. It even cuts through the Nazca Plateua.

A 90-mile break (the Darién Gap) in Panama stops the highway from being non-stop. Otherwise, it's clear sailing through high mountains, deserts, rain forests and a lot of asphalt.

3. The crookedest: The Stelvio Pass

Photo: Damian Morys/Flickr

Americans know the block-long Lombard Street in San Francisco, with its flowers and eight switchbacks and tourist hordes that outnumber cars by a lot. In the eastern Alps of Italy, the Passo dello Stelvio makes Lombard look like a dragstrip.

Sitting some 9,000 feet above sea level, the Stelvio Pass has some four dozen switchbacks, and that's just on the north face.

4. The highest: Gyatso La Pass

Photo: Einar Fredriksen/Flickr

This one is contested, too. An access road that reaches 10 meters short of the top of the Pico del Veleta, the second-highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada range in southern Spain, is considered by many to be the highest paved road in the world, at more than 11,000 feet up.

But the Gyatso La Pass in Tibet (above), on the road to Everest, has a high point of 5,257 meters - or more than 17,000 feet.

5. The widest: 9 de Julio Avenue

Photo: Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires/Wikimedia Commons

Next time you're on that busy perimeter highway around a major American metropolitan area, slow down and thank your lucky stars that you're not stuck in traffic on 9 de Julio Avenue in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Named after the country's independence day - July 9, in 1816 - it boasts as many as nine lanes in each direction and spans the width of a city block.

6. The narrowest: The Spreuerhofstraße

Photo: Kathrin Mezger/Flickr

Let's be honest here: The Spreuerhofstraße in Reutlingen, Germany, is little more than a crack between buildings. But what's good for the Guinness Book of World Records is good enough for us, and Guinness says this is the world's narrowest street.

Barely a foot wide at its skinniest, ballooning to 19 inches or so at its widest, you'll need to leave your bike at home to get through.

7. The scariest: Road of Death

Photo: GilCahana/Wikimedia Commons

That road that Daniel Craig's James Bond speeds through at the beginning of "Quantum of Solace" (along Lake Garda in Italy)? Scary.

But for pure fingernail-wasting terror, there's Yungas Road in Bolivia. Called the Road of Death, Yungas has long stretches of thousand-foot drops and no guardrails. It's winding and tight, and it rains a lot. People die there. It's no place for backseat drivers.

8. The wildest: Atlanterhavsveien

Photo: Fabio Liggeri/Flickr

The Atlanterhavsveien, or Atlantic Ocean Road, is a 5-mile stretch of road in Norway that winds up and down through an archipelago on the Atlantic, in the northern part of the country. It has eight bridges and four rest stops for the weary, scenic-minded or carsick.

It can get awfully windy and stormy out there on the ocean, but on a clear day, it's as beautiful a drive as there is anywhere in the world.

9. The shortest: Ebenezer Place

Photo: Peter Robinson/Wikimedia Commons

If you love a parade, this isn't the place for it. Stretching credulity, the folks at the Guinness Book have listed Ebenezer Place, in Wick, Scotland, as the world's shortest street.

At 6-foot, 9-inches short, or 2.06 meters, Ebenezer Place is really just the bend around a hotel bar's entrance, between Union and River streets. But it's been there since the late 1800s, so who are we to argue?

Top image: The Atlantic Road (Atlanterhavsveien) in Norway. Credit: Johan Bichel Lindegaard/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

[Source: Mother Nature Network. Edited. Some images and links added.]