h o w a r d   a n d e r s o n   r e c e n t  w o r k s


"G r a n d p a ' s  H y d r a n g e a s"

"G r a n d p a ' s  H y d r a n g e a s"    o i l   o n   c a n v a s   2 4 " x 3 0 "  ( p r i v a t e   c o l l e c t i o n )

1000 Block of Lombard Street

The crooked block began as a straight, cobblestoned street.  By 1900 it was lined with large homes and fine gardens.  The south side of the street was dynamited in 1906 to stop the advance of the fire, and residents rebuilt their homes there within a short time.  With the advent of the automobile, the 27% grade proved too steep for vehicles, and in 1922 the city agreed to reduce the grade to 16% and to build a curved two-way street paved in brick.  The city spent $8,000 on this project.  In return, property owners on the block agreed to pay for brick steps adjacent to their homes, maintain the plantings, and install and maintain light fixtures.  In 1939, the street was made one-way
Until the early 1950s, the block was fairly unknown.  The original plantings had consisted of Scotch broom and other shrubbery.  Then, Peter Bercut (who lived on the block) planted hydrangeas in the median of the street.  During a trip to Europe, he had seen them blooming on a hillside in France.  A few years later, a photograph showing the hydrangeas in bloom along Lombard was published in a local newspaper, and in 1961, it was printed on a postcard.  Some 300,000 copies were sold that year.  Soon, thousands of tourists were driving down the street.
The block has changed greatly over the years.  Many families lived here before World War II.  In those days, neighborhood children enjoyed roller-skating down the quiet street.  Most families moved in subsequent decades, beginning with the post-war flight to the suburbs.  Soaring real estate prices also drove out many residents.  Today, the population is composed largely of two-income couples without children, and the street has become a magnet for skateboarders and “chicken” races, as well as tourists.
By 1970, many neighborhood residents were weary of the traffic and circulated a petition to close the block.  Others felt the street should belong to the people.  So far, the city has continued to resist all efforts to close the street.




© 2009 Howard Anderson. All Rights Reserved