Driving down Lombard Street in San Francisco

Lombard Street is one of the most famous in the world. Located just five blocks from the Fisherman’s wharf, this steep and curvy street is in the heart of San Francisco is known as the “crookedest street in the world.” In order to get there, you must drive up a series of steep hills to an elevation of 325’ above sea level. Lombard Street takes you through 8 very steep and curvy switchbacks at a 27% grade, which means, for every 100 feet you travel, the street drops 27 feet.

Built nearly 100 years ago in 1922, San Francisco’s Lombard Street is just one block long and zig zags downhill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets.

Why is Lombard Street so famous? There are two reasons.

First, those series of tight turns are pretty unique, not a common way of building roads, which makes it fun for both drivers and onlookers.

Second, is the sheer beauty of the street. The road is not paved, but rather lined with red bricks and is surrounded by colorful plants and flowers. This combination creates a great photo op for anyone visiting San Francisco.

What is it like Driving Down Lombard Street?

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It’s actually not scary at all, however going over the first hump to get your vehicle pointed downhill is a little nerve racking because you cannot initially see over the hood of the car. The hairpin turns in the road are so dramatic that larger vehicles could certainly have a problem. The speed limit is 5mph, and you could not even go much faster if you wanted to due both the traffic, and physics.

How did Lombard Street come to be?

In the 1920s, many residents on the street were interested in buying cars. The problem was, they couldn’t drive down such a steep hill. One of the residents had the idea to decrease the grade by creating turns in the road. When Lombard Street originally opened, cars could drive both ways on the curvy road. As you can imagine, this created some challenges, so the road eventually turned it into a one-way street heading downhill to the east.

Today, over two million cars drive down Lombard Street each year. In an attempt to capitalize on this traffic, politicians through out the idea of charging people to drive down it during busy times. Thankfully this idea was rejected and it’s still free to walk or drive down Lombard Street, which is already maintained by taxes.

Well that’s a quick blurb about Lombard Street in San Fransisco, one of the steepest, windiest and curviest roads in the world. If you have any questions, leave a comment below..

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.
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