Select City Highpoints

On May 11, 2017 · 7 Comments

I’m not much of a highpointer, and a begrudging one at best, although I maintain a kinship with those who follow this pursuit. I like the concept of highpointing more than the actual climbing of summits. That’s why I find myself occasionally visiting sites like and examining things like its Peak Lists. I admit, I lifted many of the ideas for today’s article from its Selected World City High Points, and I’d do it again. City highpoints never got much attention. They fell way down on the pecking order behind national, state and county highpoints. I decided to give a few city highpoints the attention they deserved. I ordered my list from lame to grand.


City of Toronto Highpoint
Toronto, Ontario Highpoint
via Google Maps 3D, 2017

Toronto didn’t appear on that peakbagger list. Nonetheless I felt I should take a look anyway. The Canadian city with its largest population certainly deserved some attention. A great city in a great nation undoubtedly marked its highest elevation with a spectacular monument. Well, no, not really. Toronto’s maximum elevation of 212 meters (696 feet) barely rose above the surrounding terrain. Trip reports described an underwhelming experience, essentially walking onto a field (map) directly across the road from York University. I did notice that a regular Twelve Mile Circle reader posted one of the trip reports so that was a nice bonus.

The generally flat field covered a large reservoir of underground oil tanks. It seemed odd, as I considered it, that sports fields would be built atop oil tanks, although I supposed it must have been safe or they wouldn’t have done it. The fields served as home base for the Toronto Azzurri Soccer Club, with the specific highpoint found on what they called the West Fields. I can never remember where people call the sport Soccer and where they call it Football. Apparently Canada went with the soccer variation, or at least one club in Toronto did. I’m sure the Canadian 12MC audience will correct me if I’m wrong.

I doubted that any kids kicking soccer balls across a field atop oil tanks appreciated their exalted location upon Toronto’s summit.

Chancery Lane at High Holborn

City (High Holborn, 22m)
City (High Holborn, 22m) Junction with Chancery Lane. Photo by diamond geezer on Flickr (cc)

Peakbagger suggested a highpoint for London, England although I disagreed. It focused on Greater London and I’ll get to that in a moment. I wanted the actual City of London, a very tiny area of barely more than a square mile. The possibility of an exciting highpoint within such a small urban footprint seemed remote. It met my paltry expectations and nothing more. The actual spot registered maybe a notch better than Toronto only because it fell within a fairly busy, seemingly dynamic area. The highpoint could be discerned on the eastern side of Chancery Lane near its junction with High Holborn (map). It registered a measly elevation of 22 m (72 ft).

People who "climbed" to the summit recorded some interesting trip reports. One person said, "I’d walked across this pavement summit several times whilst working in London, without realising it was a high point." Another offered a recommendation to future climbers, "Suggest you do this one from Chancery Lane tube station, then at least you walk slightly uphill to it." Everyone seemed rather unimpressed.

Westerham Heights appeared as the highpoint on the Peakbagger list (map), at 245 metres (804 ft). However, that applied to Greater London, comprised of all 32 London boroughs plus the City of London. It wasn’t much more spectacular either, at 245 m (804 ft), "A rather unpleasant high point opposite Westerham Heights Farm; on a blind bend, the verge of a fast dangerous road, the A233."

Mount Lukens

Mount Lukens, view from Beaudry Loop
Mount Lukens, view from Beaudry Loop. Photo by Vahe Martirosyan on Flickr (cc)

A similar situation appeared in Los Angeles, California although the highpoint was much more prominent. I didn’t want the Los Angeles county highpoint, Mount San Antonio (aka Mount Baldy) at an impressive 3,068 m (10,064 ft). I wanted the city highpoint. The summit of Mount Lukens (map) reached 1,547 m (5,074 feet). While it didn’t reach quite the same stature as Mount Baldy, it still hit a pretty good altitude. At least it was a real mountain, too. It sounded amazing.

Mount Lukens stands majestically above the Crescenta Valley as the western most peak of the San Gabriel Mountains front range… It’s western flank drops over 3,000 feet affording terrific views of the San Fernando Valley to the southwest and the Verdugo Mountains and the Los Angeles Basin to the south. On exceptional days both the south and west facing beaches can be seen.

That made Los Angeles the city with the highest elevation of the 50 largest cities in the United States.


Montmartre. Photo by heroesbed on Flickr (cc)

However, Montmartre, the highest point of elevation in Paris, France, impressed me the most (map). A highpoint should look like this. It actually fell outside of the city limits until 1860 when it was annexed to become part of the 18th arrondissement. While the summit climbed only 130 m (430 ft), French authorities took full advantage of the situation. What does one do with such a prominent peak? Stick a basilica atop it and make it look even taller! The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur, dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus, underwent construction on Montmartre between 1875 and 1914. What a lovely setting. No wonder artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet spent time on Montmartre.

Odds and Ends 4

On November 27, 2011 · 5 Comments

The mailbag runneth over with great finds and suggestions from the generous readers of the Twelve Mile Circle audience. I’ll combine that with a couple of my recent discoveries and voilà, instant article. I’m not sure if I’m feeling lazy or if I’m still in a food coma from the recent Thanksgiving holiday but either way, prepare yourself for another installment of Odds and Ends. If you enjoy this series then you can always find more in the Complete Index.

My Stuff

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I stumbled across a subdivision outside of Pretoria where the streets are named for South African football teams. Either the developer is a huge football fan or he’s stumbled upon a great marketing technique. Imagine the hordes of rabid followers of a particular team that would be attracted to specific properties for instant bragging rights. I suppose the strategy could backfire in off-years but it would be great during winning streaks. Here are some of the more interesting street names.

  • Qwa Qwa Stars Rd.
  • Kaizer Chiefs Rd.
  • Real Rovers St.
  • Moroka Swallows Rd.
  • African Wanderers Rd.
  • Orlando Pirates Rd.

Imagine the conversation: "Yes, I live at 123 Orlando Pirates Road, you know, the one named for the team that defeated the Black Leopards 3-1 at Mbombela Stadium to win the 2011 Nedbank Cup?…"

Moving along to another topic, the recent article called No, Not That One seemed to have struck a chord with the 12MC audience. Many people posted examples of minor inconsequential towns sharing names with famous cities. I have one more. I’d like to note for the record that London, Kentucky is the home of the world chicken festival. Take that, London, England! I actually kind-of want to attend the festival.

Finally, I received a visitor from Iqaluit, Nunavut earlier this week. I have nothing more to add to this other than it’s only the third visit I’ve ever received from Nunavut.

We Know, but We Were Here First

Steve from Connecticut Museum Quest — one of my favorite must-read blogs even though I live nowhere near Connecticut — wondered if I had a page devoted to "unfortunately named places." He’d like to nominate Swastika, Ontario.

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Yes, that would certainly place high on any list of unfortunately named places. The residents of Swastika argue that their usage dates back decades prior to any negative connotation. Wikipedia notes: "The town was named after the Swastika Gold Mine staked in the autumn of 1907… During World War II the provincial government sought to change the town’s name to Winston in honour of Winston Churchill, but the town refused…" It goes back to an earlier connotation, the good luck associated with a Sanskrit swastika, which seems to make sense for a gold mine. Still, sometimes one needs to know when it’s time to let go.

Still Lost

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Jim C. provided a great set of photos that I posted a couple of years ago on Michigan’s Lost Peninsula. He sent a message this morning to inform me that the Lost Peninsula is the subject of a recent article in the Detroit Free Press.

It’s a human-interest piece timed to coincide with the Michigan vs. Ohio State (American) football game. I got a sense of déjà vu, though. How the States Got Their Shapes used a similar premise to discuss the Toledo War. It left me with the feeling that a certain reporter for the Detroit Free Press watches the History Channel.

Back and Forth

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This one doesn’t show up well in Google Maps so you’ll have to trust me when I say that it represents an unusual situation. Greg drove along Interstate 71 in an area where Cleveland and neighboring Brooklyn share a particularly squiggly border. The Ohio Department of Transportation placed a sign at each municipal crossing so that travels can see shifts between Cleveland and Brooklyn five different times in the space of a quarter-mile, including two signs just a few feet apart.

It reminded me of the crazy (albeit unsigned) crossings between Kentucky and West Virginia on U.S. Route 52/119. It also shows that city planners and highway engineers don’t always use the same criteria when laying down their lines.

Uh huh huh huh… You said…

My wife isn’t happy that Beavis and Butt-head is back on television after a 14 year hiatus. Nonetheless, I’ll present some recent finds from Alger that I believe fit the spirit of this momentous event.

Keep your suggestions coming — you might find yourself included in the next installment of Odds and Ends!

12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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