Pittsburgh to christen Canton Avenue in Beechview as steepest in U.S.
Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood has been described for years as the steepest street in the nation.
The street is virtually impassable in winter when covered with snow and ice. It’s the piece de resistance for bicyclists competing in the annual Dirty Dozen race. The Hell on Hills race starts at its base, climbs it and claims to be the world’s steepest 5K.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill, a Beechview native, intends to make it official.
Coghill at the urging of residents and local organizations is having the Pittsburgh Public Works Department erect signs at the top and bottom of Canton designating the street as the steepest in the continental United States. Coghill said he hopes the signs will encourage visitors to stop and look at the street linking Coast and Hampshire avenues and maybe dine in the neighborhood business district afterward.
“I’ve had people who live around there that tell me they see people constantly stop and get out of their car just to check out the hill,” he said. “It’s like a tourist site. We thought it would be cool and good for the neighborhood to get some signs in there.”
Coghill intends to unveil the signs Saturday during a short ceremony starting at 11 a.m. The signs note that Canton’s 37 percent grade tops all others in the country and list Beechview’s other steep streets, including Boustead, Hampshire, Fallowfield, Belasco and Dagmar avenues.
“Pittsburgh is famous for its Steel-Producing Heritage; it’s infamous for its hills,” the signs read. “Beechview is not for the faint of heart, but that’s part of the charm. You don’t just stroll through this neighborhood. You have to conquer it.”
Coghill noted that major news outlets have christened Canton as the steepest in the United States. The list includes the Huffington Post, worldatlas.com, Fox News and many online outlets.
Audi in 2016 filmed a TV ad on the hill, demonstrating that it’s Quattro A4 car could make up without a problem despite driving over sand, mud and snow. In addition to its car, Audi’s commercial featured a world-renown skier, snowboarder and downhill mountain biker traversing the hill.
“It’s something everybody in Beechview knows about,” said Moira Kaleida, a lifelong Beechview resident, who lives near Canton. “It just never got the recognition it deserves.
North Siders might argue that Rialto Street in Troy Hill is the city’s steepest street, but its 24 percent grade comes in at No. 5. Dornbush Street in East Hills (31.98 percent grade), Boustead Avenue (29 percent) and East Woodford Avenue in Carrick (27.7 percent) are steeper than Rialto but not as steep as Canton.
A street gradient is a measure of rise over distance. A 0 percent grade is flat; 100 percent grade is straight up and down.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.