May 12, 2017

The Largest Escalator in the Western Hemisphere

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege of being able to visit the largest escalator in the western hemisphere.

At a height of 230 feet and a slope of 30°, the that escalator brings riders in and out of the Wheaton Metro station takes a full two minutes and 45 seconds to ride from one end to the other.

The escalator at the Wheaton Metro station is truly a remarkable sight to behold. As soon as I learned that the largest escalator in the western hemisphere was among the many escalators in the Metro system, I knew that I had to pay it a visit.

My journey to this holy site began where all of my adventures into D.C. begins, at the Vienna Metro station. I head towards New Carollton and got off at Metro Center. From there, it was towards Glenmont on the Red Line. The farthest I had ever been in that direction prior to yesterday was Brookland, so it was nice to see what the rest of D.C. was like down in that area.

As soon as I passed the Silver Spring station, I could feel the train descending into the ground at an impressive slope. Upon arrival in Forest Glen, the first stop in Maryland, I was delighted to discover a type of station that I had never seen before: separate tunnels and platforms for each direction. This is a feature specific to stations that are deep underground.

One platform and tunnel per direction!
Continuing one more stop down the Red Line, I arrived at Wheaton. Again, there were separate tunnels and platforms for each direction (fun fact: Wheaton and Forest Glen are the only Metro stations to employ separate tunnels and platforms for each direction).

Getting out of the train and the tunnel, there it was: the largest escalator in the western hemisphere. My excitement could hardly be contained. Immediately I got on it, and instead of walking up as I usually would, I decided to let it do the work for me. Two minutes and 45 seconds later, I was at the top.

But during the ride, I couldn't help but laugh to myself as I became conscious of how long the ride was. The height of this escalator is unbelievable! This lighthearted thought was interrupted as soon as I looked behind me and saw the terrifying height I had travelled -- and I wasn't even halfway up. As someone scared of heights, this was not only a moment of pure fear, but also a moment for reflection on my life. Here I was -- young, excited, a little bit scared -- doing something that should have been completely horrifying. But I was doing it. Me, a person scared of heights, was traversing the largest escalator in the western hemisphere! It was an experience wrought with emotion, one that I will not soon forget.

If you ever find yourself in the metro D.C. area, I encourage you to ride the Wheaton escalator at least a few times. Not only will it provide you with a few moments for some serious self-evaluation, it's also a fun, adrenaline-inducing ride.

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