Lombard Street in San Francisco has eight tight turns on a steep downhill slope.
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Lombard Street runs for two and a half miles across northeast San Francisco, but visitors know it mainly for the block where it becomes "the crookedest street in the world"—and one of the prettiest. Eight tight turns tame a dangerously steep slope and give drivers a slow-motion downhill thrill, while the block's handsome houses, bright summer flowers, and spectacular city views give walkers plenty to see besides the traffic.
DOING DRIVERS A GOOD TURN City engineers laid out the brick-paved switchbacks in 1922 to help cars handle the hill's 26 percent grade.
ROADSIDE GARDEN City Parks Commissioner Peter Bercut planted hydrangeas along the block in the 1950s to curb erosion.
NOW SERVING NO. 287 On summer weekends, some 350 cars cruise down the curves every hour.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS Attempts were made in 1970, 1977, and 1987 to reduce traffic congestion by allowing access only to residents of the winding road. None succeeded.
Photography by Sean Arbabi
This article was first published in July 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
The crooked stretch of Lombard Street can be found between Hyde and Leavenworth streets in San Francisco. Request the San Francisco and San Francisco Tour maps at AAA.com or at any AAA branch office.