Detour Worth Making: The Crookedest Street in the World

Snake AlleySan Francisco’s Lombard Street is widely thought to be the World’s Crookedest Street. But did you know that Burlington, Iowa’s “Snake Alley” was officially named by Ripley’s Believe It or Not? as the “Crookedest Street in the World”?

Built in 1894, Snake Alley was conceived as a “more direct link” between Burlington’s business and shopping districts. Working together, three public-spirited German immigrants designed and installed the winding hillside street, reminiscent of the vineyard paths in their homeland. At the time, local newspapers proclaimed the street “a triumph in practical engineering.” However, after testing the roadway with teams of fire department horses, the switchback design proved to be a bit of a problem. The bad news: lots of broken horse legs. The good news: today, Snake Alley helps make bike races devilishly evil.

Consisting of five half-curves and two quarter-curves over a distance of 275 feet, the drive time from top to bottom: 36 teeth-chattering, head-bumping seconds. This sounds like a good time to have both hands on the wheel.