Snake Alley, called by some The Crookedest Street in the World, was built to move traffic up and down a hillside too steep for a straight road. A news clipping from 1894 described the serpentine roadway as “a triumph of practical street engineering.” Its switchbacks were smartly designed to be steeper on the inside than the outside. Its paving bricks, instead of being laid smooth like on other brick roads, were laid edge-up and beveled to give better footing for horses.
Despite the purely practical motives of its builders, the block-long street was so odd that it became an attraction. It acquired its “Snake Alley” nickname soon after it opened, and was featured on some of America’s earliest picture postcards.