Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, USA

3 Conversations

Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California is famous for having a large number of unusual things to do and see.

In tourist shops in San Francisco, Lombard Street is famous for being the 'crookedest street in the world'1. It is really a fairly normal street2 in the northern area of the city's peninsula. It runs from the northeast side of the city eventually to meet the Golden Gate Bridge.

So why is it that so many tourists3 go to Lombard Street while in San Francisco?

What's really interesting is the stretch inbetween the intersections where it meets Hyde and Leavenworth streets. Leavenworth is at the bottom (where the best view is) and Hyde is up at the top. At a 40 degree slant, this section is one of the steepest parts of San Francisco, going over Russian Hill.

The street winds sharply and is paved in red brick, providing a nice view of the city. Looking towards Leavenworth, west, one can see Coit Tower4 clearly. There are many beautiful (and expensive) houses on each side, with chrysanthemums and other flowers (during much of the year) inbetween the homes and the street. What with the road, flowers and houses, the sight of this section of Lombard Street is very colourful.

The entire street is one-way only, going from the top of the hill down - going east to west. In order to go through Lombard Street, you have to drive to the top at Hyde Street and then through the slow traffic (and there is quite a lot - not so much because Lombard is a major street but because people enjoy the novelty of going through the curves5). Some garage driveways also feed into the street's curves. There is a set of stairs on either side of the street that provide a good, more gradually-observable view of the street and scenery.

The street was built with eight sharp curves because it is so very steep. If someone were to go down a straight street at that angle, it would be dangerous, so the curves prevent anyone from reaching a speed that could hurt or kill a driver. It would have been especially difficult to go down such a street when it was built in the mid-1920s, when automobile technology was rather basic in parking and slowing and preventing plummeting.

Luckily, the street isn't nearly large enough to park on - if it was there could be many accidents with tourists who are unaware of the common procedures involved in parking on a steep San Francisco street.

Our thanks to Tav-Dad for the photograph.

1Whether it actually is or not is doubtful. There are similarly crooked streets in San Francisco, and other very crooked streets in the world. The superlative nickname is really just a novelty - most probably not really the most crooked street in the world. One could argue, however, that the term 'crookedest' is open to interpretation - how do you measure crookedness?2Well, normal for San Francisco anyway. If you would introduce such angles and curves as you find in this area into any other city, you would get some strange looks.3Luckily, (among other reasons), since this area of Lombard is residential, tourist-related businesses - or 'tourist traps' have been unable to set up shop and have left the area's beauty unspoiled. However, if you would like a postcard of 'The Crookedest Street in the World', you can find one in most souvenir shops.4A 210-feet-high city landmark which is a memorial to the firefighters who battled the fire that ensued following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.5In fact, if you need to drive through this bit of road for practical purposes, it's faster to go a block further and through a street with normal traffic.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by

Edited by

h2g2 Editors


h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more