Crookedest Street in the World
San Francisco, California
For most of its length, Lombard Street is indistinguishable from any other roadway in the hilly neighborhoods of San Francisco. But for one block -- between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets -- Lombard drops 100 feet along eight hairpin switchbacks. It opened in 1922, and has been calling itself the World's Crookedest Street ever since.
If you think you can merrily careen down the crookedest street in the world, think again. Lombard's zig-zag is so popular that there's usually a line of cars at the top -- sometimes several blocks long -- waiting to drive down. The posted speed limit is 5 mph, but you'll go much slower than that as you try to avoid hitting the bumper of the car immediately in front of you. Lovely flowers and shrubs line the switchbacks, making it difficult to photograph the cars from the adjacent sidewalk. Most tourists drive down, park at the bottom, then take pictures of other tourists driving down. But they have to be quick; parking anywhere near the switchbacks is illegal.
For over 20 years the people who actually live along the World's Crookedest Street, understandably frustrated by the traffic, have tried to close it to all vehicles except their own. Their efforts finally succeeded in 2014, when the city ordered the street closed during the last two weekends in June and the first two in July (the four busiest tourist weekends of the year). The result: more traffic backups on surrounding streets, and more pedestrians walking up and down the middle of Lombard.
The experiment was not repeated.