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. db

    Well, it does have it's ups and downs!

    December 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Umm, yea

    Well, to those that think there's a better use of funds like the one here, umm, yea, what do you know about this area? Do you think any company is willing to set up shop in this area and not be subject to vandalism and extortion, this area makes our "hoods" look like dog parks. Or setting a food program, for what to be run down in less than a year and call it a day. Improvements in areas like this, need for infrastructural work to say the least, is a big step to get something like this going that will benefit this population in its entirety on a daily basis, not like our distribution of aid in the good ol' United States of America, where bailout, etc goes to those that I'm sure have the f-ing escalators within their "house" for their lazy behinds to go from the one wing to the other...or better yet, those that are getting tax exemptions so that they can go and summer at their "summer homes". Hey, when it comes to governments, especially $$$, you rather see those funds be bury into something tangible and not just evaporate into thin air and nothing to show for it....Colombians in this area anticipated this, so I'll give them the score of 1, USA 0 when it comes to the tally....or does anyone know where the most recent bailouts in the slums of the US, aka, "the hamptons", "midtown NYC" or anywhere the 1% of the riches live at when too? Oh yea, no clue...but America, at least those that are writing negative feedback on this blog, keep on paying the $35 overdraft fees, the hiked up commuter train fare on an outdate train system that's a joke compare to the TGV or the Shinkansen line, or better yet property taxes, your weekly deductions for services that don't add up in the most basic T rule of accounting principles.

    So long...

    December 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    I probably shouldn't let people in on what a success story Medellin is....very few Amercian tourists go there, and those that do are treated extremely well. Although Medellin was once a very dangerous city, the press never reported on its' turnaround and how it is one of the safest cities in South America now. I've been there 4 times and am taking my two young boys next month for their first trip. In addition to the escalators, Medellin has a very safe and modern subway system. They have 3 gondola lines that ascend the hills into the neighborhoods. They recenlty completed the longest auto tunnel in South America to reduce the drive to the ocean port of Turbo. They are also working on several bus rapid tranist lines. Very progressive and modern city. Viva Medellin! Viva Colombia!

    December 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. No Headroom

    I find this to be good news since it will probably be the only place I'll be able to afford retirement......

    December 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    That is the silliest analogy I have ever heard.

    Were you aware we are talking about COLUMBIA? As in the country in South America, and not the District Of?

    December 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      you ignorant... the country is COLOMBIA not columbia....

      December 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • V.

      First of all people, IT IS NOT COLUMBIA it is COLOMBIA with an "O". I'm so tired of people not knowing where COLOMBIA is or how to spell it. This is a great thing for Medellin. Why do we always have to find the wrong in the good? Cindy why do they build a village at the bottom of a slope?? wow Just by making that comment it shows how ignorant you are... You have obviously never left this country. Educate yourself, you should try to expand your horizons and travel so you can see that there is a world out there. People have to find a place to live and these hills is what's available to them. They mention Pablo Escobar, because he gave houses to a lot of these people who now have nothing.

      December 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cindy

    Why help this sh!thole country? And who builds a village at the bottom of a slope like that? Stupid a$$es, that's who.

    December 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Savuka

      Awww, does someone need a hug?

      December 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    @No Headroom:

    Now, *that* was funny!

    December 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel Sanchez

    I don't get why the piece needs to mention Pablo Escobar. This is like saying: "The Dallas Cowboys made it to the play offs... Dallas better known to be the place where JFK was killed..." News should be news by themselves; no need to bring back ancient history.

    December 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polopoint

      You're right. I agree there's no point in mentioning ancient history. Which is why I cannot understand your example: The Dallas Cowboys 'made' the playoffs, now that's certainly past tense and ancient history! Hardly worthy of a current affairs article!

      December 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scott

    Headline 2012: Residents of Medellin Columbia Suddenly Obese

    December 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Really? Seriously now

    How about housing and food for the locals. Really if I lived there I would see it as a piece of metal that I would have rather seen used to fix my roof or a space they could have cleared for a neighborhood Co-op garden. I wonder what the ratio of local supporters were for this waste of money. Did they even get to vote where that money was to be spent?

    December 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polopoint

      Seriously now . . . the definition of 'short-sighted' and 'narrow-minded'

      December 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Larry

    Certainly are a bunch of "Ugly Americans" on here today, tis the season I guess.

    December 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. al bud

    A lot of you have obviously never been to Medellin. I have. It is an increbily vibrant community that companies would do well to relocate to. I represent a screen printing supply company and can tell you that companies like Corona who produces decorative tile are more technologically advanced than similar printers here in the US. My supplier there is state of the art as are a lot of textile fabric companies, apparel companies, and manufactureres. The image of Medellin as a drug center are long gone. They boast one of the best urban transportation systems anywhere. Imaging riding a ski gondola instead of a bus up the hills, modern? You bet, more European than a lot of central america. My visits there have found a wonderful people with drugs pushed out and to the south. You have so much security to get into Medellin from the airport and so much security on the streets that this area is well under control. I highly recommend a visit. It's is a wonderful area regardless of the incredibly ignorant responses here. Before you slam anyone walk in their shoes, you would be surprised how backward the US is in reality. Our negative comments only prove our ignorance of a very creative and wonderful country that is at war with the drug cartels, not run by them.

    December 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    I misspelled Colombia.
    You all knew what I meant.
    Now, stfu and get back to the topic, which is *not* how the people of this city are going to become obese because something was put in that could possibly make their lives a tad bit easier.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sean Smith

    @Umm, yea,

    I think your missing the point I have to assume your just a troll. trying to turn this into a 1% vs 99% which this is not..

    First.. this escalator is outside in Colombia. and while keeping it clean and running does create a few jobs. 6.9 million dollars could have done a lot more good then this. Slums stay slums because of the people trying to eek out a living there simply do not know any other way.

    Ranting about the US and how the rich spend or don't spend has nothing to do with this article. It really only shows how very little you know about basic economics. If you want to "help" out a slum area provide jobs, so that the people can afford to educate the next generation. "I picked this life so that my kids would have it better then I did" was once a common phrase.... $6.9 million dollars dumped into entrepreneurial ventures, companies, and other businesses would have done wonders for this place. I don't live there so I have no way of knowing what life is like there, and perhaps the escalator is the best idea, but I doubt it.

    This of course is just my opinion,

    December 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Peony Ofindiana

    I read somewhere that there are plans to cover it, so it would stay cleaner and protect users. I am happy for those who are able to use it. Many elderly or handicapped may even benefit who have not been able to go out much before?

    December 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnnie99

      Are you serious? Slum dwellers ... ? Maybe their rent and state taxes might help pay for all this? Or .. maybe not? Take a guess.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      Excellent well done. Finally a country that helps its 99 % instead of the usual 1% like in the USA......

      December 28, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
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