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San Francisco's crooked street | Bartell's Backroads

Check your brakes before driving down Lombard Street, one of San Francisco's most popular tourist stops.

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s been dubbed “the crookedest street in the world,” and every year more than a million visitors drive, walk or take a cable car just to see the twists and turns on Lombard Street in San Francisco. 

In all, there are eight hairpin turns taking drivers down Russian Hill. It’s one of the most scenic views in the northeastern part of the city.

If you are wondering why Lombard Street is so crooked, the reason has to do with safety. Back in the 1920s, when developers built the road, they felt it would be safer to give the road some curves instead of going straight down the steep hill.

Russian Hill has a grade of about 27 degrees, and in the 1920s most cars were not powerful enough to climb that steep of a hill. The solution was winding switchbacks, which reduced the grade to a drivable 16 degrees.

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Lombard is technically not the most crooked street in the world. In fact, Lombard is not the most crooked in the city. 

If you go down Vermont Street, between 20th and 22nd, that road is even more twisted and every Easter people race plastic trikes down the hill in the Bring Your Own Big Wheel event.

Lombard Street didn’t gain popularity with tourists until the 1960s after it started showing up on postcards. The curved road even made an appearance in the 1969 film “The Love Bug."

Lombard Street is open to the public but be courteous of the people who live along the cooked street. Be quiet, use the walking path, and don’t block driveways.

DAY TRIP IDEA: Rancho Obi-Wan, home of the world’s largest Star Wars memorabilia collection is less than a parsec away in Petaluma.

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