Hairpin Insanity: San Francisco’s Famous Lombard Street

By | May 7, 2019

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San Francisco's Lombard Street. Source: (

San Francisco is home to many iconic sites—the Gold Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and the townhouse from Full House. Add to that Lombard Street, which claims to be the most crooked street in America. With eight hairpin turns and a steep grade, the one block section between Hyde and Leavenworth streets attracts its own fair share of tourists who what to drive, bike, or walk down this zigzag road. Let’s look at the birth of the iconic Lombard Street. 

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Lombard Street at night. Source: (

Straight and Steep

Prior to the 1920s, all of Lombard Street, even the steep portion between Hyde and Leavenworth streets, was straight. At this time, however, the automobile was replacing the horse as the favorite mode of transportation. The folks living on Lombard Street wanted to purchase cars just like their friends and family, but the street was too steep—with its 27% grade—for vehicles to safely drive down it. This caused the value of the property on Lombard Street to decline. No one wanted to live in a place that wouldn’t allow automobiles.