Lombard Street in San Francisco holds the title as the “crookedest Street in the World”. While this may be true, visitors to San Francisco may not realize that Lombard runs in an east west direction throughout the whole city, however the really crooked part of Lombard is a small segment where it descends down a steep hill between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Streets. This crooked section laid out with red brick (instead of your standard grey concrete) does look like something whimsical out of a Disneyworld theme park attraction. Visitors observing Lombard from the bottom at Leavenworth Street will have the unique charm magnified when observing the cars slowly weaving in and out of the tight turns. Visitors to San Francisco who come by car or rent one should definitely check out Lombard Street for the ultimate challenge in driving coordination and braking skills. Those in the city on foot only should know Lombard Street is a quick point of interest that will take at most 10 minutes.
For such a charming little stretch of street that is full of imagination, the crooked part of Lombard amazingly enough does not trace its roots back to a colorful history. This ¼ mile stretch was conceived out of necessity in 1922 when property owners felt this section of Lombard was too steep (at a 27% grade) for the cars at the time to climb. The street was built out as a way to facilitate moving traffic up the hill and make it easier for pedestrians both descending and climbing the stretch on foot.
Today millions of people a year who visit San Francisco seek out Lombard Street. The best way to see it is probably from a Cable Car (Take the Powell Hyde Line out of Union Square-Powell and Market Streets and sit on right hand side as you face forward). Where they Powell-Hyde line makes a stop, you can see it, grab a photo and move on. There are always hoards of tourists on the ground taking photos at either end. Again, obviously if you have car its worth stop to test the good ole driving skills.
The location of Lombard street is in a fairly residential area of San Francisco. While its cool to see how some of the locals live, it is about 15 minute walk from the prime tourist locations (Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, most hotels) etc. Visitors who enjoy exploring the city on foot will find this arrangement ideal but if on a time crunch definitely take a cab, drive or grab a peak from the cable car.
Lombard Street has been featured in countless movies, tv shows and even video games.
Fans of MTV’s Real World San Francisco will want to check out the Real World House used for the five month production located at 949 Lombard Street.