In the 1920s, the well-to-do residents of the 1000 block of Lombard Street in San Francisco decided the street was too steep, causing problems for horse-drawn wagons, early Model T’s and even those walking. Their solution was to convert 600 feet of the street turned into eight hairpin turns. A decade later, it had become apparent that the street would be even safer if it became one-way. The speed limit there today is 5 miles per hour.
Although Lombard has often been called “the crookedest street in the world,” that honor apparently goes to Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa. Vermont Street in San Francisco is also near the top of that list. Lombard, an east-west thoroughfare, was just a local phenomenon until the late ‘50s, when a news article describing its uniqueness was released. Then the Steve McQueen movie “Bullet,” which came out in 1966, with its infamous car chase near Lombard Street, really put it on the map.
Today, approximately two million people from around the world visit those iconic hairpin turns annually (pre-pandemic numbers), where they also enjoy a spectacular view of the city. That number equates to about 6,000 people per day. If you’d like to see the aesthetically pleasing Lombard Street, you might consider getting some professional guidance on when to visit to avoid the largest crowds.
Another attraction on that famous upscale 1000 block in Russian Hill is the Montandon House, purported to be haunted. In the 1960s, socialite Pat Montandon, a newspaper columnist who at one point dated Frank Sinatra, owned the house, where she held popular themed parties. At one of these soirees, a tarot-card reader put a curse on her. After mysterious happenings and odd deaths, Montandan had the house exorcised.
Can you imagine how much there is to see and do in San Francisco if this is what you can expect in just one block? You can head out on you own or take a walking tour, a biking tour, a bus tour or a luxury private tour of the city. We highly recommend it.