Lombard Street, Crookedest Street

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November 25, 2014

SF Icons: Lombard Street

Known as the “Crookedest Street in the World,” Lombard Street is one of San Francisco’s most popular landmarks. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors walk or drive down its eight sharp hairpin turns. Surrounded by Russian Hill mansions and perfectly manicured landscaping and flowers, it is also one of the city’s most scenic streets. Take a spectacular photo at the bottom of the curvy portion looking up or enjoy the breathtaking view from the top looking out onto the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge and Coit Tower.

General Visitor Info

Although it’s a steep walk up Lombard Street, visiting doesn’t take a lot of time. But once there, you are close to numerous other San Francisco attractions. North Beach, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf are all within short walking distance. Lombard Street is also located just a few blocks away from the San Francisco Art Institute, which sometimes features events, lectures and art shows.

How to Get There

The crooked famous portion of Lombard Street is located between Jones St. and Hyde St. There are a variety of ways to get there:

  • Bus: You can take several city buses through North Beach, the most popular of which is the 30, which runs from Union Square. Get off on Columbus near Lombard. From here you will walk west (uphill) a few blocks to get to Jones, the bottom of the hill where the curvy part of Lombard Street begins.
  • Cable car: The Hyde Street cable car will drop you off at the top of the curvy part of the street. Also, The Powell-Mason cable car line stops at Lombard and Columbus. 
  • Car: Note that the curvy portion of Lombard Street only runs one way, towards the east. To drive you’ll want to come to this street from Van Ness, turning east on Lombard.
  • Tour bus: Many of the city’s tourist buses pass by Lombard Street via Hyde or via Columbus. Some of them stop to let visitors walk around the area but they aren’t able to drive down the street.

Did You Know?

Although it is known as the “Crookedest Street in the World,” Lombard Street is not even the “crookedest” street in San Francisco. That title technically belongs to Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd streets on Potrero Hill.  

It may look treacherous but Lombard Street’s switchbacks were actually built to increase the safety of the street. The natural steep grade of Potrero Hill was thought to be too dangerous. In the 1920s a property owner suggested creating a series of switchbacks which not only added to the street's scenic appeal but made it safer for pedestrians.

The name Lombard actually has no link to San Francisco history. It is named after a street in Philadelphia.

Bring Your Own Bigwheel, a race every Easter Sunday where people race big-wheeled plastic bikes, started on Lombard Street before moving to Vermont Street on Potrero Hill, where it takes place now.

Top Photo by Graham Earnshaw / CC-BY-NC-ND
Second Photo by Adrian Pratt / CC-BY-NC-SA
Third Photo by Scott BealeCC-BY-NC-ND

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