Lombard Street: The “Crookedest” Street In The World

Driving Lombard Street in San Francisco

San Francisco has some of the steepest streets in the world and one of those streets is the world famous Lombard Street that graces postcards and calendars in every tourist shop across the city.

After visiting the Ingleside Terraces Sundial, climbing the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, hiking to Grand View Park atop Turtle Hill, and hiking Twin Peaks, we drove over to walk the stairs of Lombard Street — something I have never done before.

Lombard Street stretches from the The Presidio to the Embarcadero, but is known worldwide for the one-way block between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, where eight sharp turns are said to make the street the crookedest street in the world.

Located in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood, the crooked portion of Lombard Street has eight tight switchbacks in only 600 feet.

We parked nearby and braved the extreme wind as we walked to the top of Lombard Street and joined about a billion other tourists snapping photos, walking up and down the street, or sitting in a long line of cars waiting their turn to drive down the iconic curving road.

From the top of the winding road, we were treated to amazing views of the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, and Coit Tower. After snapping a few quick photos, we walked down the 253 step staircase on one side of the road and up the 249 step staircase on the other side.

Lombard Street History

Why is Lombard Street so crooked? Safety.

Lombard Street was originally a two-way Street, but the 1000 block between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets was so steep that residents had safety concerns and vehicles struggled to make it up the steep hill. In the 1920’s a new street design with eight switchbacks was built to reduce the 27% grade of the 1000 block. The new one-way section of road was paved with red bricks and lined with 12 flowerbeds planted with more than 2,000 blue and purple hydrangeas.

Today Lombard Street is a top tourist destination in San Francisco and one of the most popular and most photographed places in the world. It gets approximately two million visitors each year and up to 17,000 per day on busy summer weekends.

The Crookedest Street In The World?

Is Lombard Street Actually The “Crookedest” Street In The World? Nope. It isn’t even the most crooked street in San Francisco!

The real most crooked street in San Francisco is the stretch of Vermont Street between 20th Street and 22nd Street in the Portrero Hill neighborhood on the other side of the city. It has seven switchbacks with tighter curves than those found on Lombard Street, but because it’s out of the way, not as famous, not as beautiful, and partially obscured by trees, it never became a tourist destination.

Know Before You Go

  • Lombard Street is located in the Russian Hill Neighborhood of San Francisco, California 94109 and is called the Crookedest Street In The World.
  • While Lombard Street stretches across San Francisco, the one-way curvy section with eight hairpin turns is only 600 feet long and located between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street.
  • Approximately one million cars drive down Lombard Street each year and the line is long (sometimes you have to wait hours), so consider parking nearby and walking the staircases on both sides.
  • The Powell-Hyde cable car stops at the top of the block on Hyde Street.
  • From the bottom of Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf is just a few blocks away.
  • The street was named after Lombard Street in Philadelphia by San Francisco surveyor Jasper O’Farrell.
  • This area experiences many vehicle break-ins. If you park and walk Lombard Street, don’t leave valuables in your car or keep them out of sight.

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