It’s not just that they replaced 350 concrete steps in a hillside area that was once labeled the most dangerous community in Colombia’s second largest city. The enormous 384m orange-roofed series of outdoor escalators united Comuna N. º 13 San Javier (located high on the hillside) with the rest of Medellín.
A journey that was once a strenuous half-hour hike up the steep hill was transformed into a six-minute trip for the more than 12,000 residents. The series of escalators, completed in 2011, is divided strategically into six sections allowing people living on different levels of the hillside access at different points. It has improved life in San Javier where people now feel more connected to the rest of the city.
Outdoor escalators and art
The escalators were only one of a series of urban reform programs in the area aimed at bringing about social change, making sure the lower income areas felt they were included. The result was the creation of one of the most colorful communes in Medellín. The area surrounding the escalators is now covered with murals and graffiti, bright colors and street art. These initiatives earned Medellin the title “the most innovative city in the world” in 2013.
Since then they have become an icon of the urban transformation in Medellín and a must-see site for tourists and personalities from all over the world.