Sunday, September 9, 2012

US San Francisco : Lombard Street (As crooked as it gets)

"You know, you have to visit this very crooked street in San Francisco. When we were there the last time, we drove down the street and believe me, it is so windy." my wife said.

I did some research before I depart  for San Francisco, and discovered that driving down or visiting the Lombard Street, a stretch of very crooked street in San Francisco is listed as another one of the top ten things to do or places to visit. So, how crooked is it and what exactly is the big thing about it? 
Taking the Hop On and Off, dropping off at Little Italy allowed us to walk to Lombard Street. The walk up from Little Italy is not your typical stroll in the park. It is steep ...real steep. It is a good thing that the cool San Francisco's weather made the walking much more pleasant. I can not imagine ourselves huffing and puffing this steep stretch up to the Lombard Street in our Malaysian's hot and humid afternoon.
Lombard Street runs from east to west but the section that is what she is famous for is a stretch of about one block with EIGHT hairpin turns, running down a slope.

This one block section is located at Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Street. The eight sharp hairpin turns or switchbacks have earned this street the title of the `crookedest street' in the world although the title has often been contested. Crookedest or not, this street sure is crooked and driving down that steep sloop while negotiating all the eight hairpin turns can be challenging if one is careless. In fact, we actually saw a car scratching the side at one of the turn. However, I truly think that he deserved it, because he was both driving with one hand while the other was holding on to his camera recording the process. What an idiot!

Apparently, the hairpin turns were suggested and adopted way back in 1922 as a way to reduce the danger of negotiating down this slope. This crooked section which is about a quarter mile long (400m) is reserved for one way traffic travelling down the slope and the official speed limit is 5mph.

Summer is a good time to visit as the gardens along this section are in full bloom and the bright green colors of the leaves and the red, pink, yellow and amber colors of the flowers in full bloom makes this stretch even more scenic.
The street itself is closed to pedestrian but there are steps on both side that you can take to either walk up or down the slope. Reaching the top, and looking down this crooked and steep street, my eyes are pleasantly greeted with the sight of the bay and the city of San Francisco from afar. The sight is simply awesome!

On the day we visited Lombard Street, some company was doing a promotional recording of some racing bikes and the street was closed temporarily to allow this macho rider in his full racing gear and this super mean machine charging down the street, negotiating all the eight hairpin turns in such apparent reckless break neck speed and with such ease. Children, please do not attempt this at home or any time you get the chance to drive down Lombard Street!
To me, Lombard Street is a "one off" attraction sight of San Francisco. I would categorized it as "Been there, done that" location which definitely warrants a visit when one visit San Francisco but not a site that one would remember fondly for anything specific nor would dream of going back for a subsequent visit, unlike the likes of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 or the romantic sunset cruise we took on board the Adventure Cat.


  1. Wow... this place looks pretty cool. I wish I can visit here one day.

  2. Thanks for visiting Cleffairy...Everything in life starts off with a wish. I am sure you will make your way there someday and once you are there, there are so much to see and experience. I am certain that you would love it....