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Why Is Lombard Street Crooked? San Francisco's Unique Street Explained

Why Is Lombard Street Crooked? San Francisco's Unique Street Explained

Explore the fascinating story behind San Francisco's Lombard Street, famous for its eight hairpin turns and stunning visual appeal. Team


1 min read

November 13, 2023

Lombard Street, often referred to as the "crookedest street in the world," is one of San Francisco's most iconic and unusual landmarks. This one-block section, with its eight hairpin turns, attracts countless visitors each year, all eager to witness its unique design. But what's the story behind this peculiarly winding road? Let’s unravel the mystery!

The origins of Lombard Street's design date back to the 1920s. Initially, the street was a straight, steep road on Russian Hill. However, its 27% grade was too steep for most vehicles to climb, especially those from the early 20th century. In 1922, property owner Carl Henry proposed the idea of a series of sharp turns to reduce the hill's natural grade to a more manageable 16%. This ingenious solution not only made the street safer but also transformed it into an architectural marvel.

Lombard Street's design is a testament to early 20th-century city planning and the ingenuity required to adapt to San Francisco's hilly terrain. The switchback design was implemented by architect Clyde Healy, who created a more navigable road that respected the area's natural topography. In the process, Lombard Street became a spectacle of urban design.

Lombard Street is a remarkable and unique part of San Francisco.

But Lombard Street isn’t just about its curves. The road is also famous for its stunning visual appeal. The street is beautifully landscaped with flowers and plants, most notably hydrangeas, adding a splash of color to the gray pavement. This meticulous landscaping, combined with the red-brick road, creates a picturesque scene, especially in the spring and summer months when the flowers are in full bloom.

Driving down Lombard Street can be an exhilarating experience, but it's also a challenge. The tight turns and constant influx of tourists make it a road that requires careful navigation. For those who prefer to enjoy the view without the stress of driving, the sidewalks offer a safer, albeit steep, path to admire the street's unique design and scenic vistas.

In conclusion, Lombard Street's crooked design is not just a whimsical urban oddity but a solution to a real-world problem posed by San Francisco's hilly landscape. This blend of functionality and aesthetics makes Lombard Street a must-visit for anyone exploring the city. Its story is a reminder of how creativity and practicality can come together to create something truly remarkable. So, next time you find yourself in San Francisco, be sure to take a stroll or a careful drive down this iconic crooked street!

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