Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh: The Steepest Street in the United States

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Pittsburgh is a city known for its many incredibly steep streets, but one stands above them all as the steepest street in the United States: Canton Avenue.

Canton Avenue is located in the Beechview neighborhood, only a couple of miles south of downtown Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, PA. The street is only 600 feet long, but it has an average grade of 30% over its length. There is even one short section that has a grade of 37%.

Looking down from the top of Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh PA
Canton Avenue is the steepest street in the United States.

And, while there are a couple of streets in the western United States with short sections of more than 37%, there are none with an average grade steeper than Canton Avenue. In fact, this is likely the third steepest street in the world (after ones in New Zealand and Wales).

Canton Avenue runs one block from Coast Avenue to Hampshire Avenue. Given the steepness of the road and the fact that there is no flat spot at the bottom of the hill, traffic is only allowed to go one way up the hill (entering from Coast Avenue). That being said, I can’t imagine how crazy you would have to be to even attempt to drive down this road if you were allowed.

A car going up Canton Avenue in Beechview PA
Driving up Canton Avenue is a ton of fun.

Since this is a public road, all you have to do to drive up the road is make your way to the Beechview neighborhood, near the popular Beto’s Pizza and just off of Route 19. The road starts at these coordinates (40.409139, -80.030033) or you can use the address for the house at the bottom of the hill: 829 Coast Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216.

Canton Avenue is the first left after turning onto Coast Avenue from Route 19 and is very close to the highway. This actually surprised me the first time, and the immediate nature of the hill left me with just the tip of my toes on the accelerator. So, before you turn onto the road, make sure you put your foot squarely on the accelerator.

House along the steepest street in the United States in Pittsburgh
To show the steepness, I rotated this photo to make the road flat and the houses at an angle.

The hill’s steepness is actually somewhat deceiving. In most of the photos in this article, it doesn’t look all that steep. And while, in person, it looks steeper, the full steepness of the hill can’t be appreciated until you are halfway up the hill with your pedal near the floor.

Amazingly, this hill is one of 13 hills in the Dirty Dozen bicycle competition that is held around the city every year, and I love watching videos of bicyclists attempting to make it up this insane hill. Given how difficult it is to simply walk up this road, I’m incredibly impressed by those that were able to pedal a bike to the top.

White car halfway up Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh PA
You don’t fully realize the steepness of Canton Avenue until you start driving up it.

As you drive up the hill, think about the people who live in the houses along this street and have to drive up it on a regular basis. Fortunately, there is parking for them at the top of the hill, and a somewhat overgrown stairwell for a sidewalk for the entire length of Canton Avenue.

The roadway itself starts as pavement but turns into cobblestones about a third of the way up. My assumption is that this is because the road is too steep to be fully paved, but I don’t have a specific reason why this is the case. 

Information sign at Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, the steepest street in the United States
There is a sign denoting the uniqueness of this spot at the top and bottom of the hill.

If you visit in the summer months, you may notice foliage growing between the cobblestones along the edge of the road. In the winter, this road is not maintained, and I highly advise avoiding it if there is a chance of snow or ice on the roadway. (Unless you are crazy like the people in this Audi commercial that was filmed here.)

Once at the top of the hill, follow Hampshire Avenue to the right (the only direction you can go). If you want to do the hill again or simply return to the light on Route 19, take the second right onto Alverado Avenue, and then turn right again back onto Coast Avenue.

Looking up Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Looking up Canton Avenue. It’s a lot steeper than it looks in this photo.

If you want to get a better look at Canton Avenue, you’ll need to park near the top of the hill as there is nowhere to park or even stop at the bottom of the hill. On a similar note, if you want to switch drivers, make sure to do so either before you drive here or at the top of the hill.

Ultimately, driving up Canton Avenue is a fun little diversion while exploring Pittsburgh, and definitely one of my favorite free things to do in the city. So, the next time you are looking for something fun to do in the city, make sure to check out this unique spot.

Looking for even more things to do in the area? Check out the last wooden block street in Pennsylvania, the Seldom Seen Greenway, and the view from atop Mount Washington.

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27 thoughts on “Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh: The Steepest Street in the United States”

    • I think that if people checked out Jackson Street in Jefferson City, Missouri, they would find a much steeper incline than the one here in Pittsburgh.

      Reply
  1. Back in the day, cobblestone pavers provided horses, and mules a much better footing to get up, and down these steep streets without slipping..

    Reply
  2. Canton is very steep, but is actually not the steepest street within the city limits of Pittsburgh. That title goes to Ferndale St in the Homewood East neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The hill goes from Blackadore Ave to Lawndale St. It is part of the Filthy Five hill running race (which also includes Dornbush – the 3rd steepest street in the city behind Ferndale and Canton). With a steep section topping over 45%, Ferndale is the actual steepest paved public street in the world – beating Wales. Unfortunately, the city has never officially measured the street so the stats are not publicly available. But we have measured it, and without a doubt it is steeper (and longer) than Canton.

    Reply
    • I haven’t personally measured every street in Pittsburgh or the world, so I can only go off of publically available information. I’m also taking the method of the Guinness Book for Records in considering the average grade for the entire length of a road, not just a portion of it.

      Reply
      • Yes, there is not much you (or anyone) can do with this information unless the city of Pittsburgh chooses to officially measure Ferndale St. However, with the Guinness World Record requirements being: 1) steepest paved road over a continuous distance of more than ten meters; and 2) measure on the center line; we are certain that Ferndale St beats the published leaders. It’s steepest portion (in the middle) is longer and steeper than Canton’s steepest portion (the cement part at the bottom), as well as being a longer hill overall. Being the mid-40s for % steepness for over 10 meters, Ferndale St beats Ffordd Pen Llech (37.45% on an inside curve; 28.6% in the center in Wales) and Baldwin (34.8% in New Zealand).

        Thank you for highlighting Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh!

      • Rialto Street is very steep and much longer than Canton Avenue, but it’s far from the steepest street in the United States. It’s only a 24% grade, which doesn’t even put it in the top 5 steepest streets in Pittsburgh.

  3. Interesting article. Has anyone considered the Akron, Ohio Street we call Cadillac Hill close to Market Street. It is a brick street and the bricks are set like stairs and not flat. Bounces you around and extremely steep. Tested my brand new 89 Jeep Wrangler on it in the winter. Up and down. What a ride….
    Plus a street out by Wadsworth, Ohio that the county dumps piles of cinders top and bottom to prevent motorists from using it in winter. Same jeep in winter to find xmas tree place. County had not put cinders pile in place. My daughter screamed the whole way down.

    Reply
  4. This isn’t the steepest in Pennsylvania nor Pittsburgh! Have you seen Brushton Avenue, or Tokay street? Hill Avenue or North Avenue in Wilkinsburg, PA ? Colombo street or Black street in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood?

    Reply
    • The city recognizes Canton Avenue as the steepest street in Pittsburgh. And, while I’m sure that every street in the state hasn’t been measured, I’m just sharing what is widely recognized as the steepest street in the United States.

      Reply
  5. There’s a street in Wilkes-Barre, PA, that I used to train on for hills back in my running days. Intersection of Dana Street and South Hancock Street. I would think it’s much steeper than this one. The one side angles up steep but longer distance to the top, while the other side coming down is brutal- almost feel like you could just tip over. Laps up and down each side of the street to the hill at top would burn your legs out pretty quick. I’m thinking there are many others like this, just haven’t been noticed.

    Reply
  6. Interesting article. I have wondered have we gotten to the point of building roads where no roads should be? Is it necessity or desperation?

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  7. I just have to say; why does nobody seem to take the time to read? Watching this journalist have to basically repeat themselves over and over again to people who are popping in here with nothing more than mere anecdotal evidence, exclaiming the equivalent of “my street is bigger”, is painful. It’s as easy as pulling the data from that city/township/borough/etcetera and comparing it to the data of this street.

    Reply
  8. Jim, Have you checked out Leon Street, in the Southmont district of Johnstown, PA? It is really really steep. Leon Street was cobblestone when I lived there over 60 years ago. Some of the homes on the street have huge drop-offs and long multiple sections of steps from their front yard down. Some houses on the other side of the street sit with their roof level at street level.
    Additionally, there are very steep back streets in the Ferndale section of Johnstown. These e are not very long, however.
    In my later pre-teen years, I could almost coast my bicycle from home to downtown Johnstown to attend the YMCA. To get home I would peddle to the Inclined Plane and ride that to the top of the mountain for just a student bus token. From the top, I could coast home to Leon Street with only having to peddle the last couple of blocks. Call me lazy, but that is how it worked.

    Reply
    • I haven’t personally measured any street. I’m going on widely reported numbers from those that have measured and looked at streets. If you feel a street is steeper, feel free to measure it and see. You might just find something steeper, but I’d think that’s rather unlikely.

      Reply
  9. I would have to add a few of the streets in Altoona PA – especially 21st and 22nd Ave off of 11th street. They are close to being 45°angles up. I had to salt and plow those avenues, so I always had that thrill!

    Reply

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