Haight – Ashbury was the epicenter of the 1967 Summer Of Love, a large movement in which more than 100,000 people, mostly young, sporting ‘hippie’ costumes and hairdos, converged here. Also known as Hashbury, this area became the centre of the alternative culture, where people rejected materialism, were suspicious of the government, did not support the Vietnam war, and tried to engage more and more in art, poetry, music, meditation etc. There was a strong emphasis on sharing as a community and “The Diggers established a Free Store, and a Free Clinic where medical treatment was provided”.
The prelude to the Summer of ’67 was an event called Human Be-In at the Golden Gate park on January 14, 1967, produced and managed by the artist Michael Bowen. The hippie newspaper of the area, San Francisco Oracle wrote:
“A new concept of celebrations beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.”
With musicians like The Animals, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Janis Joplin, The Big Brother And The Holding Company, The Byrds etc having either lived here or worked/jammed/recorded here, Haight-Ashbury is easily a pilgrimage for the history of Rock and Roll in America. Check these addresses and take a walk through this part of San Francisco.
If you are visiting in June, do time your travel for the Haight Ashbury Street Fair. The street fair was developed in response to the re-birth of the economic and residential spirit of the community in the mid-1970’s. With the assistance of the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first District 5 and openly Gay supervisor, a group of neighborhood merchants, activists and residents developed this organization with the idea of sponsoring a day long community celebration. The first Haight-Ashbury Street Fair was held on April 30, 1978, to the fanfare of the neighborhood and the City.
What To Do: Walk around, do a Rock & Roll pilgrimage, buy music at Amoeba, hang around the many book stores, art shops and cafes, and eat great food. Go visit The Golden Gate Park too. Check out this exhaustive list of San Franciso Festivals and Street Fairs. Visit the Beat Music to understand how San Francisco’s hippie culture grew. Hang out at City Lights Book Store or at Booksmiths.
Where To Eat: We had lunch at Parada 22, a Puerto Rican joint and loved it. Other notable eateries are Memphis Minnie’s, a barbecue joint. Pork Store Cafe is the classic American joint with psychedelic Hashbury posters on its walls and amazing food. 1428 Haight is another place with great breakfast and lunch. Nopalito’s is fabulous for Mexican.
Where To Stay: Though you can find great places via AirBnB and other such services, if you want the better service and comfort of a hotel, Stanyan Park Hotel (listed in the National Register of Historic Places) is very nice. We stayed, during our recent visit to San Francisco with our documentary ‘Bachelor Girls’, at Union Square, which is very far away, but has many more options in many more budgets.