Souvenirs from the Lombard Street, San Francisco, United States
How did a simple street in San Francisco become one of the city’s most iconic trademarks? The Lombard Street is no ordinary street: the image of this picturesque winding road can be found on souvenirs which mark its uniqueness. A resin fridge magnet is designed to capture its beauty: flanked by splendid Victorian mansions and home of famous houses in San Francisco, the street attracts crowds of tourists every year due to its alleged status as ‘United States’ most winding street’. It’s the street’s popular Russian Hill section with eight very sharp turns that earned its title. Its fame has nothing to do with record-breaking but with pure practicality. Its design was aimed to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade and increase car safety. It was originally the idea of owner Carl Henry and to protect pedestrians, the speed limit on the 400-meter long red brick paved section of the street is of only 8 km/h.
Up and Down the Winding Roads of San Francisco
To challenge its title, some claim that Lombard Street isn’t actually the ‘most crooked’ street in United States or in the city for that matter. Vermont Street is said to be slightly curvier than Lombard but because it lacks Lombard’s charming photogenic beauty it never got the fame it deserved. If you are a passionate photographer, Lombard Street is an ideal place to be. Post-card pictures capture the winding section of the street with its luxurious green parts and splendid colorful flowers if you happen to be at the bottom of the curvy portion. From the top of the hill, one can admire the gracious Bay Bridge or the Coit Tower of San Francisco in splendid overviews of the city. If you are a patient driver, take your car for a short yet epic journey along Lombard Street or choose to have a slow paced walk to admire its landmark estates.
Lombard Street, Vertigo and Pop Culture
In his 1958 legendary film Vertigo Alfred Hitchcock made 900 Lombard Street the home of main character John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson. This was not the only reference in pop culture: Bill Cosby sketch ‘Driving in San Francisco’ on the album Why Is There Air? satirizes the street’s sinister past of human killings, a place where ‘they put flowers there where they've buried the people that have killed themselves’. Lombard Street is also included in one of the films starring Barbra Streisand (What's Up, Doc?) or a car chase scene in Clint Eastwood's 1973 Magnum Force. Moreover, the Montandon House is located at 1000 Lombard Street and it’s not famous for its former 1960s owner Pat Montandon as it is for being one of the haunted houses in the area. The Lombard Street also features in several video games (Midtown Madness 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing).
Sightseeing and the Traffic Jam of San Francisco
In 1999 in order to solve traffic issues, a Crooked Street Task Force was established and two years later a summer parking ban was implemented to make main holidays bearable. The fines for parking in the region have also been increased and there were some projects to restrict driving in the area to sightseeing ferry buses. The plan was quickly abandoned as it discouraged the popular car drives. For a ride to the Fisherman’s Wharf area in the city or a walk through the busy Market Street of San Francisco, the Hyde Street cable car at the top of the street is a smart choice.