San Francisco Lombard Street
From the beginning, the neighbors bickered about the plantings, and many would not pay for maintenance. One resident on the block, Peter Bercut, businessman and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, would trim his neighbors’ shrubbery, which his wife said really annoyed them. Then early one morning before dawn, Bercut hired a bulldozer to mow down all the plants and started planting flowers. Peter Bercut was also an avid horseman. The Bercut Equitation Field in Golden Gate Park was named for him in 1949.
Bercut’s plantings did not hold back the erosion until, after a trip to his native France, he had the idea to plant hydrangeas. The brilliantly-colored block became known by people living in the neighborhood, but was not a tourist destination until, in the late 1950s, a photograph showing the hydrangeas in bloom was published, and in 1961 was printed on a postcard. Soon thousands of tourists were driving down the street.
The street was made one-way in 1939. During its high season, summer weekends, as many as 350 cars per hour drive down the street. Some tourists even ask to use residents’ bathrooms. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has been presented with petitions to close the street to all except residents in 1970, 1977, and 1987. Each time the Board has decided there is no cause for the closure, despite Dianne Feinstein taking up the cause for residents when she was a supervisor. Tour buses were banned in 1980.