Discovering San Francisco: Russian Hill

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Lombard Street

How did Lombard Street become crooked? City planners and residents have struggled with San Francisco's steep hills from the very beginnings of the city.

Lombard Street was just one of the many cliff-like streets that horse-drawn wagons and early Model T Ford's had trouble with. Cable cars were one solution, and curvy switchbacks were another.

In 1922, the home-owners on the 1000 block of Lombard Street decided that their street was too steep for comfort, and created the plan to create a series of eight sharp turns to make it more manageable.

The result: eight tight switchback turns in 600 feet of road. Around one million cars drive down it every year.

Sticklers will point out that it’s neither the steepest nor the most crooked street in the city, but the architecture, gardens and brick-paved switchbacks on Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth make this block a classic San Francisco photo op. Expect crowds, but don’t skip this stop. Go to watch the cars brake and snake their way down the picturesque street, dodging the boldest passersby who jockey for prime photo positioning between vehicles.

Ina Coolbrith Park

Located at the intersection of Vallejo and Taylor streets, Ina Coolbrith Park is named for a poet and librarian who became a fixture of the Bay Area literary community. This terraced park makes up for its lack of size with sweeping bay and city views. Sit on a garden bench and gaze out at Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and the downtown skyline. Day or night, it’s an impressive scene.

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