Recognized as a former drug capital, Colombia strives to rebuild and reconnect impoverished neighborhoods to the rest of the city. The city of Medellín has undergone through a vast range of building projects meant to attract tourism. However, Medellín has made the decision of creating some of their biggest investments in poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods. Medellín has included ”a public-transit gondola system, [and] the Metrocable.” They have also built buildings, for example “the Spain Library, a group of giant stone-like monoliths overlooking a quarter once infamous for drug violence.”
However, the most “ambitious” project yet has been a system of outdoor escalators, opened in 2011. The total cost of the project reached to about $6.7 million dollars. They extend “about a quarter-mile up steep hills and feature several small plazas.” A 384-meter escalator established on the mountain in six sections. The steep roads prevent any vehicle from accessing Medellin, leaving it deserted. This project has changed the way people move around the city, and it has drastically cut down on commute time for about 12,000 residents. Before, commuters were faced with the struggle of hiking an equivalent of 28 stories back home. All this excessive physical exercise is inadequate activity for a malnourished population. The escalators have contributed to health benefits.
As for economic changes, these innovations have won international innovation prizes. As a result, tourism has grown and Medellín has visitors in areas where people would usually avoid. Potentially this can help the people living in poverty, because the reconnection has proved to be successful. Executive director of the Portland, Ore.-based Sustasis Foundation, Michael Mehaffy, states that, “It is in everyone’s economic interest to ensure that the poorer parts of the city are improving as well.”
Overall, the project has created a safer, healthier environment. Nobody was convinced that the project would be possible in the beginning. Architect Carlos Escobar realized that the issue was that “[the] area was under the control of gangs,” but he mentions that the escalators have brought neutrality to the area, “the control is in the community’s hands, [and] it has increased the pride of the community.”