The crooked part of Lombard Street was designed in 1922, after it was determined that the 27% grade of the hill was too steep for most vehicles, and even pedestrians. The switchbacks were designed to increase the ability to travel safely on Lombard, the one way street was paved with red bricks in its now-famously crooked fashion, and a recommended speed limit of 5 mph was established.
The big secret? Lombard isn’t actually the most crooked street in the world – in fact, it’s not even the most crooked street in San Francisco. That honor belongs to Vermont Street in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, specifically the section of road between 20th and 22nd streets. However, Lombard has managed to remain a much more popular attraction thanks to its stronger visual appeal and more convenient location for visitors.
The crooked section of Lombard is located between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, and a number of public transportation options can take you there. If you opt to take the bus, the 30 will take you straight from Union Square to Columbus Avenue, a few blocks from Lombard. Be warned: this option will require an uphill walk for several blocks to get to the intersection of Leavenworth and Lombard. If you opt for the more touristy option of cable car, the Powell-Hyde cable car will drop you off right at the intersection of Hyde and Lombard (the top of the crooked block), or the Powell-Mason line will drop you three blocks away at Lombard and Columbus. You also have the option of taking a tour bus ride, most of which will stop by Lombard.
Another option is to drive to Lombard Street, allowing you to experience the crazy turns yourself. If you choose this option, be sure to approach the block from Van Ness Avenue to the west, turning east onto Lombard, and be prepared to wait in traffic.
Once you get to Lombard Street, the sight is pretty easy to digest. Enjoy a slow and challenging drive down the street, or get some exercise by hiking up to the top. Along the way, you will encounter a number of gorgeous photo ops, featuring the magnificent mansions, beautifully landscaped gardens, and colorful flowers that frame Lombard on both sides. At the top of the hill, enjoy looking out over a sweeping view of the water surrounding the city, the Bay Bridge, and Coit Tower.
Once you finish exploring this crooked attraction, there is plenty to do within walking distance. There are several famous homes nearby, including the Real World House, the haunted Montandon House, and Scottie’s apartment from Vertigo. Alternatively, check out the nearby neighborhoods of Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and Chinatown. Fisherman’s Wharf is known for hosting the most popular tourist attractions, like Pier 39. North Beach is popular for its Italian restaurant scene and a variety of literary landmarks, and Chinatown will give you a taste of the city’s rich multicultural scene, including the popular Fortune Cookie Factory.