Monday, September 24, 2012

Burlington's Snake Alley Winds Through Time

Ripley's Believe it, or Not touts Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa as the crookedest street in the world. Judge for yourself. The alley on a hill is located between an old time residential area of the Port of Burlington and its business district. In 1894 a city crew designed and built the alley in an unique way. It consists of five half-curves and two quarter curves along the 275 stretch of brick pavement. The alley measures some 58 feet high and has a 21% grade in the one block stretch. While the street has been known to host a few cars down its winding trek most often bikers (both motor and foot powered) and pedestrians managed the crooked course. 

Snake Alley's pavement consists of bricks carefully placed. The lay of the brick is not totally decorative but was engineered to allow horses better footing as they made their way down the slope back in the day. Years of wear have produced black marks from turning tires. On this day a professional photographer used the alley as a backdrop for a high school senior's portraits. At other times the alley is used as part of a race course for bikes and foot. 

When you travel to Burlington, one of Iowa's oldest cities (which was the former second Wisconsin territorial capital, then Iowa territorial capital) make a stop at Snake Alley. You will enjoy the view and maybe make the claim that you tamed the crooked path of bricks.


  1. Very cool, and interesting info! I had no idea that the bricks were placed a certain way to help horses keep their footing!

  2. I will have to put this on my list of Iowa places to visit!