Lombard is located in the Russian Hill area, where drivers face a speed limit of just five miles per hour. I joked that I could climb the hill faster!
Colorful paintings covering the walls of every house along Lombard Street at the intersection with Taylor Street made me excited to step into the street. But I slowly began to feel overwhelmed as I climbed (not walked) up this street, which has the steepest slope I’ve ever seen in my life.
As I stood for a while on my way toward the main street, I met an old lady walking her dog who explained: “The natural soil layer on this street posed a severe danger to drivers and certainly to carriages in the old days. In 1920, Carl Henry, who owned most of the area, proposed to transform the structure of the road and surrounding areas to make the place more beautiful while ensuring safety for pedestrians. The twisty turns were made soon after that. “
When I asked about the locals’ great parking skills, this lady explained that it’s necessary to park at 90 degrees with vehicles perpendicular to the curb to prevent them from rolling away. “Of course, the police will send an ‘invitation’ immediately if anyone breaks the rule!” she joked. Then the famously curvy street appeared before my eyes. Paved with red bricks and stretching less than one kilometer, it stretched ahead like a flying dragon.
Visitors are often stunned by this street, wondering why it’s so crooked. The answer I got form the elderly lady about “safety” is not wrong. Hairpin turns were made to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade, making it easier for vehicles to travel. This unique road is used by one-way traffic descending from Russian Hill.
While drivers must pay close attention to slow down, pedestrians can feel relaxed and free to sightsee. On both sides of the street, visitors wave their hands excitedly to cheer on drivers who glide down safely, like they are welcoming world-famous F1 racers toward the finish line.
At the bottom, many tourists take selfies because this spot provides an almost full view up the street. In contrast, at the top of the street you can enjoy a panoramic view of the matchbox houses that are iconic near the shores of San Francisco Bay. Try to climb to the top of Lombard to enjoy double the fun!
Along the walk, visitors stop to catch their breath and admire many kinds of bright, blooming flowers, including cherry blossoms from Japan. There are many beautiful houses on this winding street, as well as many shops with just one parking spot for customers.
This place is also home to some of the oldest and most expensive houses in the city. In spring and throughout the summer, this twisty street becomes more lively and colorful since chrysanthemums and other flowers planted by the locals are in bloom.
No visit to San Francisco Bay is complete without checking out Lombard Street, a very special street in America!