Lombard Street

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by dkm1981 on November 10, 2011

Lombard Street is one of San Francisco’s strangest tourist attraction in my opinion because it seems odd that anybody would want to go and look at a bit of road, but as we found out when we visited this is not just any bit of road.

Lombard Street in its entirety stretches through the North Beach area of the city but it is the section at Russian Hill between Leavenworth Street and Hyde Street that draws in the visitors because this section has been dubbed the ‘crookedest street in the world’ thanks to its numerous tight turns in such a short distance. Its claim to being the crookedest street in the world has been contested, but it still makes for a fun and picturesque place to visit.

As you may know the city of San Francisco is famous for its steep streets and the seven switchback turns that make Lombard Street crooked in this section are a solution to the 27% gradient of the hill. It was far too steep for cars to comfortably pass through it so the turns were built in. The road is now paved with red stones and lined with flowerbeds and very quaint houses that make it a lovely place to go and see. Interestingly the houses that line the street here are some of the most expensive in the city, although I don’t think I’d fancy living here because of the sheer number of people and cars that pass by – it must also be one of the busiest streets in the city if you ask me.

The street is one way as the road is very narrow and so cars can only travel from top to bottom. The best place to get a photograph from though is the bottom and if you are staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city, it is just a short (albeit quite steep walk) from the area. There is a cable car line that passes along the bottom and stops just near the bottom of the road if you want avoid the walk.

There are steps running up both sides of the street so you can walk up and down it if you wish, which I’d recommend if you can because it is a very pleasant place to be and the top affords fabulous views back down into the bay and you can even see Alcatraz Island in the distance on a clear day.

We visited the street twice; once we walked to the bottom as I mentioned and we took some lovely pictures and enjoyed the general buzz that seems to surround the street. The second time we went as part of a tour on a GoCar, which is a self guided little car than you can hire by the hour to see the sights. We drove down the street as part of the tour which was a whole lot of fun – I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. We also became a bit of a tourist attraction ourselves driving down the street in a bright yellow car!

I’d definitely recommend a quick visit to Lombard Street if you are in the city as it is a quaint and picturesque place and there is certainly nothing else like it in the world!
Lombard Street
Between Leavenworth and Hyde Streets on Russian Hill
San Francisco, California


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