Lombard Street (San Francisco)

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Lombard Street
Sanfran 61 bg 032605.jpg
Lombard Street seen from Coit Tower
Maintained by SF DPW
West end Presidio Boulevard
US 101
East end The Embarcadero

Lombard Street is an east–west street in San Francisco, California. It is famous for having a steep, one-block section that consists of eight tight hairpin turns. The street was named after Lombard Street in Philadelphia by San Francisco surveyor Jasper O'Farrell.[1]

Route description[edit]

Looking east down the switchback section of Lombard Street, with the regular straight section continuing into the distance towards Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower
Looking up Lombard Street

Lombard Street's western terminus is at Presidio Boulevard inside The Presidio; it then heads east through the Cow Hollow neighborhood. For twelve blocks, between Broderick Street and Van Ness Avenue, it is a principal arterial road that is co-signed as U.S. Route 101. Lombard Street then continues through the Russian Hill neighborhood and to the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. At Telegraph Hill it breaks off to the south, becoming Telegraph Hill Boulevard, leading to Pioneer Park and Coit Tower. Lombard Street starts again at Winthrop Street and finally terminates at The Embarcadero as a collector road.[2]

Lombard Street is known for the one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, where eight sharp turns are said to make it the crookedest street in the world. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry[3] and built in 1922,[4] was intended to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade,[5] which was too steep for most vehicles. It is also a hazard to pedestrians, who are accustomed to 4.86° inclines because of wheel chair navigability concerns. The crooked block is perhaps 600 feet (180 m) long (412.5 feet (125.7 m) straightline), is one-way (downhill) and is paved with red bricks. The sign at the top recommends 5 mph (8 km/h).

In 1999 a 'Crooked Street Task Force' tried to solve traffic problems around the winding section of Lombard Street. In 2001 the task force decided it would not be legal to permanently close the block to vehicular traffic. Instead, it decided to institute a summer parking ban in the area, to bar eastbound traffic on major holidays, and to increase fines for parking in the area. The task force proposed the use of minibuses to ferry sightseers to the famous block, although residents debated the efficiency of such a solution, since one of the attractions is driving down the twisting section.

The Powell-Hyde cable car stops at the top of this block.

Famous past residents of Lombard Street include Rowena Meeks Abdy,[6] an early California painter who worked in the style of Impressionism.

In media[edit]

External images
This early image shows Lombard Street in 1933, before the hydrangeas were planted.[5]
This early image shows the houses on the south side of the block were destroyed to create a fire break during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. In this photo taken during street construction, the south side is still not built up.[5]

In his film Vertigo (1958), Alfred Hitchcock chose to make 900 Lombard Street the home of John "Scottie" Ferguson.

The street, and the difficulty of driving it, is parodied in the Bill Cosby sketch "Driving in San Francisco" on the album Why Is There Air? (recorded in Las Vegas):

"They built a street up there called Lombard Street that goes straight down, and they're not satisfied with you killing yourself that way—they put grooves and curves and everything in it, and they put flowers there where they've buried the people that have killed themselves. Lombard Street, wonderful street." (audience reacts with knowing cheers and applause).

Lombard Street is in a speeding car scene in the 1964 comedy film Good Neighbor Sam starring Jack Lemmon.

It was also included in the comic car chase scene in Peter Bogdanovich's film What's Up, Doc? (1972) starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal.

It is also featured at the beginning of the promotional video for "People on the Street" from the Neil Young album Landing on Water (1986).

The Rise of The Zombies's film starts with a car chase scene in Lombard Street.

In 1994, the MTV reality show The Real World: San Francisco was filmed at 949 Lombard Street. Although sources such as Real World Houses give the door number as 953, castmate Cory Murphy notes the door number as 949 in the season premiere when first arriving with Pedro Zamora. One entrance to the house leads to the second floor and bears the number 949, and an adjacent door facing the street that leads to the third and fourth floors bears the numbers 951 and 953.[7][8][9]

In the final scene of The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Tree Hugger" (2000), a log is shown traveling down the street on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike," there is a scene where Adrian Monk goes to the mayor's office during a citywide sanitation union strike. He suggests his idea of evacuating the whole city, burning it down, then burning the ashes, and rebuilding the city, saying "Think of it, we rebuild San Francisco ... from scratch. Start fresh, everything clean. Everything brand new. Gonna have that new city smell. Fresh off the lot, we can even straighten out Lombard Street while we’re at it." In the tie-in novel Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, when Monk and Natalie Teeger visit the mayor's office during a major police strike, Monk again brings up his request to straighten Lombard Street.

In the American Dad episode "Bar Mitzvah Hustle," Steve Smith devises a theft scheme with "more twists and turns than Lombard Street." When his team looks at him in confusion, he shows them a picture of the street, which they immediately recognize.

The street features in multiple video games, including the 2000 video game Midtown Madness 2, and the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as Windy Windy Windy Windy Street.

In 2010, the street was briefly featured in an episode of MythBusters. The MythBusters "delivery crew" encountered problems during an experiment when their step van could not complete the tight turns on Lombard Street, culminating with the delivery truck stalling and holding up traffic at the bottom of the hill.

The game San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing shows Lombard Street as a shortcut on the circuit 3.

The game Driver: San Francisco has an Achievement/Trophy for driving down Lombard Street, going at least 20 miles per hour without hitting any obstacles.

Lombard Street was also featured in the video games Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Lego City Undercover.


A panoramic view of Lombard Street

Major intersections[edit]

Note: Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured in 1964, based on the alignment as it existed at that time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage.

The entire route is in San Francisco.

Destinations Notes
Presidio Boulevard
US 101 north (Richardson Avenue) – Golden Gate Bridge West end of US 101 overlap
US 101 south (Van Ness Avenue) – San Francisco Civic Center, San Jose East end of US 101 overlap
Gap in route
The Embarcadero Former SR 480

See also[edit]

  • 49-Mile Scenic Drive
  • Vermont Street, the other San Francisco street claimed to be the "most crooked"[13] has seven turns instead of eight, but its hill is steeper than Lombard's
  • Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa, once recognized by Ripley's Believe It or Not! as "The Crookedest Street in the World". Like Lombard Street it has eight turns but over a shorter distance.


  1. ^ Loewenstein, Louis, K. (1984) Streets of San Francisco: The Origins of Street and Place Names. Don't Call It Frisco Press.
  2. ^ Google Inc. Google Maps – Lombard Street (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Lombard+St,+San+Francisco,+CA,+USA&sa=X&oi=map&ct=title.
  3. ^ Saperstein, Susan (February 2009). "Lombard Street". San Francisco City Guides. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  4. ^ Brown-Martin, Darcey (September–October 2001). "An Honestly Crooked Street". via Magazine. 
  5. ^ a b c Saperstein, Susan. "Lombard Street". San Francisco City Guides. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Rowena Meeks F. Abdy American 1887-1945 Biography". The Annex Galleries. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  7. ^ http://www.realworldhouses.com/rw3frontdoor_9-06.html
  8. ^ Winick, Judd (2000). Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned. New York: Henry Holt. pp. 61; 119. ISBN 0805064036. 
  9. ^ "Lombard Street House". Real World Houses. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  10. ^ Staff (XLS file). State Truck Route List (Report). California Department of Transportation. http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/trucks/truckmap/truck-route-list.xls. Retrieved February 2008.
  11. ^ Staff (July 2007). Log of Bridges on State Highways (Report). California Department of Transportation. http://wwBaw.dot.ca.gov/hq/structur/strmaint/brlog2.htm.
  12. ^ Staff (2005, 2006). All Traffic Volumes on CSHS (Report). California Department of Transportation. http://traffic-counts.dot.ca.gov/.
  13. ^ "Lombard Street, San Francisco". San Francisco. a view on cities. Retrieved August 27, 2009. 

External links[edit]