Things to do in San Francisco: Lombard Street

San Francisco is home to Lombard Street, often hailed as the “crookedest street in the world.” This one-block section, with its tight hairpin turns, is a fascinating attraction nestled in the heart of the city.

What is Lombard Street?

Lombard Street, specifically the one-block section between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets in the Russian Hill neighborhood, is famed for its eight sharp turns or switchbacks. Designed in 1922, this unique structure was intended to reduce the hill’s natural 27 percent grade, which was too steep for most vehicles to handle.

The History Behind the Curves

The history of Lombard Street is as winding as the road itself. It was originally a straight street, as standard as any other in the city. However, the steepness posed a significant hazard. Real estate developer Carl Henry, seeking to improve the area’s accessibility and appeal, proposed the switchback design, which was completed in 1922. The addition of brick paving and lush gardens in the 1950s further enhanced its charm, transforming it into the picturesque landmark it is today.

Noteworthy Facts and Events

A Tourist Hotspot: Lombard Street attracts over two million visitors annually, drawn by its unique design and stunning views of the city.
Floral Display: The street is beautifully landscaped with hydrangeas and other flowers, adding to its scenic beauty.
In Popular Culture: Lombard Street has made appearances in numerous movies and TV shows, contributing to its iconic status.

Experiencing Lombard Street

Visitors to Lombard Street can expect a blend of scenic beauty, architectural ingenuity, and a touch of San Francisco’s quirkiness. The best views are from the bottom, looking up. You’ll see the street winding down the hill, framed by colorful flowers and classic Victorian mansions.

Tips for Visitors

Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon are ideal to avoid the crowds.
Parking: Parking is limited. Consider walking or taking public transport.
Photography: Bring your camera! Lombard Street is a photographer’s delight, especially during spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom.
Walking vs. Driving: While driving down the street is a popular experience, walking allows for a more leisurely pace to take in the sights.