Giant escalators help poor in Medellin, Colombia
A nearly $7 million project put escalators on the steep hillside in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia.
December 27th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

Giant escalators help poor in Medellin, Colombia

Residents of one of the dangerous slums in Medellin, Colombia, now have a faster way to make it to the top of the steep hillside district of Comuna 13: a set of escalators that will help them climb the equivalent of a 18-story building.

The residents in this poor town have been making the trek up cement steps for years, but now, thanks to the $6.9 million project, they won't have to work as hard.

"We used to see escalators in shopping malls, but Medellin will be the first to use it as public transport, a mobility solution for these neighborhoods with difficult access," Mayor Alonso Salazar said, according to the news site Colombia Reports.

The BBC reports that Comuna 13's 12,000 residents will now shorten a 30 minute hike to the top. They will now be able to get there in about 5 minutes. The project is divided up into six sections of escalators.

"They’re really cool because it really gives you an advantage as you’re going up," resident Yarley Villa told Caracol TV. "It’s much more comfortable when you’re carrying packages and stuff like that."

During the project's construction it gained both support and concern from the community.

While some residents were happy to have  a replacement for the nearly 530 steps they used to have to climb (or the equivalent of 18 flights of stairs), others wished the money had been spent to help improve the housing situation or for food assistance, according to Colombia Reports.

The project is aimed at helping improve Medellin, the hometown of Pablo Escobar, which had been known in the past more for drugs and violence.

soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Giant

    Ive been to medellin its a beautifullcity the people were very warm hearted not because im an american but because these people are genuine i have yet to find any american white person to even come close to these people so now wee can cut the crap of bad mouthing these people . Its obvious how arrogant and ignorant people in america are after i lived outside the us and im an american white person . I cant stand it when people talk there white trash on other people fron other countries south of our border that have never seen another country that was anything but white . So there it it if you have nothung nice to say about these people than keep your durrogatory mouth shut!!!! Happy new year!!!!

    December 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnnie99

      By the looks of your English ... you didn't so much leave as were deported ... or perhaps never quite made it to school every day ...

      December 28, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
    • pat

      ummmm.. you should have written: I´m from Medellin, and not "Ive been to medellin". !!! I reconigze that way of writing anywhere!!

      March 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    You were just on another thread calling a user a racist, and then I read your post @ 9:18.
    What is obvious to me is that you need to learn what the word racist means.
    I can only deduce you are a troll, responding to the other trolls here.
    Happy New Year yourself.

    December 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim TX

      Now that's funny

      December 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |


    December 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sheila

      They've had them in the US for about 20 years – my dentist office in 1989 had one.

      December 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      good joke, very funny!

      March 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Yep, they already do have those in Europe!
    Keep up the good work, though, you'll get there!

    Look at how much the Pocket Fisherman made for Popeil!

    December 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. DjkrB

    Dear CNN:


    Your boards are the biggest joke in blogdom.

    Your “report abuse” button is apparently disabled, because nothing is ever done about the vitriolic and disgusting garbage that is posted here.

    These boards are now know as a safe haven for schoolchildren trolls who like potty humor.
    Please post a thread about feces and fetish s*e*x, because that is all that is ever posted anymore anyway.
    Perhaps this way, they will post on that thread, and leave the serious posters here alone.

    The contempt that CNN shows its readers and posters by not moderating this blog is reprehensible.


    December 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnnie99

      There's a tiny little 'contact us' link at the bottom of the page. Who knows – using that instead of a news blog page might get results ;) Just a thought ...

      December 28, 2011 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. utu trainman (i honk my horn for safety)


    December 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tabitha

    We visited this today, and it is SPECTACULAR. Everyone in the barrio were so happy and proud to have this. We climbed stairs the first half, because some of the escalators were being services and it was a difficult climb. There were many kids riding on the escalators, having a great time. We saw several elderly use it as well. The mountain is very steep in this area, so it is great for the elderly, disabled and those that have physical or medical conditions that prohibit them from much transit. There are also roads above the escalators that are being widened for more use by motor vehicles. The most important contribution to this community is that it has eased some tension. This is a dangerous area. Matter of fact a young man giving a video interview was gunned down shortly after the taping, camera crew still there wrapping up. This was allegedly crime related via the violence that has ensued in this community. But, the community does appear happy and confident as despite this tragedy (one of many). It is reported that the tension has eased and less crime has been reported. The only danger I see in this, is the possibility of unservised children getting hurt on the escalators, but there were police watching closely, which if they stay, can help reduce number of injuries. Perhaps this mode of transportation up and down the VERY diffult mountain side is safer despite the downside of risk of injury. All in all, it seems to be a positive addition to the community, which will also bring visitors/tourist (like ourselves today). Salud.

    December 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnnie99

      Well done Tabitha. Was that before or after the little piglets flew overheard?

      December 28, 2011 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Thank you Tabitha for the first-hand report of the opening. I'm sure others reading it will appreciate it, and look past minor syntax errors from someone for whom English isn't their first language.

      December 28, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. utu trainman (i honk my horn for safety)


    December 28, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. DjkrB

    I just pooped my panties

    December 28, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Johnnie99

    April fool?

    December 28, 2011 at 4:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Andreas Moser

    This is the most stupid development project and will make Colombians fatter still:

    December 28, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse | Reply

    It is sad to see that a reporter from a huge news channel like CNN still has to reference to our city as the home town of Pablo Escobar, a drug lord that die more than 15 years ago. We are so much more, that It wouldn`t hurt a reporter to do a little more research.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim TX

      Most still refer to Chicago as the home of Al Capone. Get over it..

      December 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris stewart

      Maria, I totally agree with you! I will be in Medellin in the next 2 weeks. I am probably going to be moving there from the US within the next 30 days. I am very interested in seeing that side of Medellin. I feel for the people that had to make that hike before the escalators. That gives me a good feeling about what Medellin is doing for itself. I am hoping to enter the real estate market there and hopefully find a manufacturer for something I have in the textile industry. Do you have any suggestions on finding someone that can show me that area and the people Tthe reason I am interested is to find a way I can help Is that something you may be interested in? I hope to hear from you about this.. Best regards, Chris

      January 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chuck

    Isn't it unfair that journalist always use for reference the "dark past" of places instead of the "bright present. Medellin is the home town of PGA golfer Camilo Villegas and Emmy winner Juanes and is not the home town of Pablo Escobar. Medellin is known for the stunning Christmas decorations, great weather and the most important... tourists are considered guest, not plague,

    January 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Hugh Jass

    Don't let the door knock your tinfoil hat off on the way out.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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