Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Tourists Clog Famously Curvy Street

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Tourists Clog Famously Curvy Street

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO - Lombard Street, the scenic San Francisco thoroughfare known as the "Crookedest Street in the World," has become so thronged with gawkers that residents say it feels more like an overcrowded amusement park than a residential road. City transit leaders are considering possible solutions, including charging a toll, requiring reservations, adding more parking- control officers and encouraging visitors to reach the single-lane street on foot or by cable car.

In the summer months, an estimated 6,000 people per day visit the street, which offers views of the city that are as beautiful as the road is winding.

"There have been days when you have 250 people at the bottom of the street taking pictures and hundreds of people up and down the sidewalks and another hundred at the top, said Greg Brundage, who has lived on the hilly street for 20 years. "It's a mob scene.

Sightseers have visited the landmark road for decades, but in the past four or five years, they have flooded it. Cars waiting to drive down the 600-foot-long street often stretch back for three blocks, clogging the Russian Hill neighborhood, residents said.

The curvy street wasn't intended to be a tourist attraction.

Residents built the hairpin turns on the red brick road in 1922 because its 27-degree grade was too steep for the era's cars to climb. Neighbors added the lush gardens filled with hydrangeas and roses 30 years later.

The sweeping views and the fact that a cable car stops at the top of the street contributed to its popularity. Its worldwide fame only increased after it was featured in movies and commercials.

The recent congestion has been compounded by tour buses that drop off hordes of tourists in the morning, leaving them to wander the residential area for up to two hours, residents said.

"A lot of airplanes from Asia arrive early in the morning, and tourists can't check into their hotels, so the buses pick them up, bring them down here and drop them off for an hour, two hours, and it doesn't cost them anything, said Brundage, who heads the Lombard Hill Improvement Association, which pays for the street's upkeep. …

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