Canton Avenue: Pittsburgh
If you've ever visited or lived in Pittsburgh — enchanted land of funiculars and French fry-stuffed sandwiches — you're already probably well aware that it's a unique and, at times — depending on how you feel about bridges and hills — daunting town to get around. Boasting a terrain best described as super-vertiginous, it's to little surprise that Steel City — Steep City is more like it — is home to the most precipitous public street in America.
Located southwest of downtown Pittsburgh in the Beechview neighborhood is Canton Avenue, a public thoroughfare with a gulp-inducing grade of 37 percent. At a little over 200 feet long, the hilly section of Canton Avenue is significantly shorter than that of New Zealand's Baldwin Street, the street recognized by the superlative-bestowing folks at Guinness World Records as the being the steepest in the world. However, cobblestone-paved Canton Avenue is technically steeper than Baldwin Street by a grade of 2 percent. Furthermore, depending on whom you ask, Pittsburgh isn't just the steepest public street in the U.S. but on the planet.
While slowly slogging up the public staircase that flanks Pittsburgh's most arduous avenue is one thing, biking up the street itself is another. Just ask the brave cyclists participating in the annual Dirty Dozen, a hill-conquering 50-mile race around the 'Burgh in which Canton Avenue, recently featured in all of its extreme glory in Audi's Quattro Challenge campaign, serves as the grueling, spirit-breaking centerpiece.