Wednesday, July 11, 2012

World's Narrowest Street Shrinking

A street in Germany confirmed as the world's narrowest by Guinness is in jeopardy of relinquishing its title, as the wall of a near-derelict half-timbered house is starting to bulge outwards because water has seeped into the ancient beams, making the street impassable.

Spreuerhofstrasse Street in the town of Reutlingen in the German region of Swabia has held the record of the world's narrowest street since 2007. The street measures only 12.2 inches (31 centimeters) across and is only 12.5 feet long, but it has become a top tourist draw for the small village, as people flock from across the world to photograph and walk the Spreuerhofstrasse.

However, the street might possibly have to surrender the record, if one of the old houses located on the street continues to bulge outward, making it impossible for people to pass through.  "A street is no longer a street if no one can get through it," a city official has pointed out. If the house is torn down, that would then make the street too wide, which would also take away the world record.

Local experts warn that if nothing is done, the street will become impassable by next year and will have to be closed down for public safety reasons. The city owes its world record to a devastating fire and a city official who was either unfamiliar with his town or extremely thin. The conflagration tore through the city in 1726, prompting local authorities to rule that buildings should have gaps between them in order to prevent fires from spreading too quickly. Then, in 1820, a town hall administrator decided to elevate the status of this particular crevice to that of a full-fledged public street.

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