You can’t actually get lost on Lombard Street. It’s a pretty straight San Francisco street, running east-west for several blocks… until it’s not straight at all. For one block it becomes the “crookedest street in the world.”
As most streets in San Francisco do, Lombard climbs a steep hill, the likes of which make this City one of the most exciting and challenging to explore by foot, car or public transport. Breathtaking, panoramic vistas are promised and granted at the top of every hill, and most car rides rival a roller coaster in ascent and descent – complete with nausea and butterflies. Sidewalks in extremely hilly neighborhoods have tiny stairs built into them, to make walking down a little easier on the knees.
Bounded by water on three sides – the Bay to the north and east and the wild ocean to the west – from the peaks of most neighborhoods white sailboats are exquisitely visible, catching the breeze in the glittering blue, navigating their way around Alcatraz and Angel Island, some sailing all the way to and under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, gateway to the Pacific.
The famous fog rolls inland over that bridge, clinging to its spans and shrouding the picturesque City in its misty, mysterious cloak. The clanging chimes of the cable cars are amplified in the swirling mist, as they inch their way up those steep, steep streets.
For one block the hill of Lombard Street is too steep for cars. Eight hairpin turns were constructed to reduce the hill’s natural grade and make it possible to drive down. While it is affectionately known as “the crookedest street in the world” it’s probably not – there are at least two other equally or more crooked streets in San Francisco, but it is one of the City’s most famous attractions, and driving down is always a thrill (at least for us – perhaps the residents on that block of Lombard don’t feel quite the same way).
So you can’t get lost on Lombard Street. And I have yet to get lost in San Francisco. Not only because the City is built mostly on a grid of streets running east-west and north-south, or because it has an area of just over 230 sq miles (600 sq km) which makes it pretty small. I’ve traipsed many of those foggy hills, watched 4th of July fireworks explode over the Bay, parked my car on the steepest streets, with my wheels curbed in on a downslope and out on the up (prevents accidental rolling, even with the brakes on!). I’ve played tourist at Alcatraz, on cable cars, at the top of Twin Peaks and in Golden Gate park. I’ve walked across the Bridge, tried to swim in the icy Pacific, and eaten sourdough bread at Fisherman’s Wharf.
What I’ve lost to San Francisco is my heart.
This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.