We really did it.
We went to Ashbury-Heights, and, despite all the musical warnings that we listened to in Portugal, we forgot to wear a flower in our heads. Sorry! And we did feel bad, because, the feeling is still there (not the flowers!).
Too much youth, lots of irreverence, and a different town in town. Maybe it is not your world, as it is not mine; but you should go there to see the contrasts that enrich San Francisco.
This district is named after the intersection of these two streets, but most of the commercial activity of interest to tourists is along Haight Street. Good hikers can walk from the Market Street/Civic Center area up through the Lower Haight Street district to Buena Vista Park, which is the eastern boundary of the Upper Haight, or Haight Ashbury District, as tourists know it. Haight Street terminates into Golden Gate Park. The Upper Haight and Golden Gate Park were both developed in part by contractors, Haight and Ashbury, during the late 1800s, and at one time this neighborhood was a very fashionable part of town in which to live.
While the Upper-Lower Haight district distinction refers to more to altitude than social status, homes in the Lower Haight were the less ornate homes of Japanese and African-American immigrants who settled closer to the bay fill businesses of Market and Mission Streets, as well as the shipyards and factories of China Basin. In contrast, the mansions near Golden Gate Park were more often the property of Anglo immigrants. However, the fame of this district for a counter-culture of hippies, which began around the 1967 Summer of Love, was partly because of rising rent prices in the North Beach neighborhoods, where the 1950's era Beat Generation was created, and still remains today. So, although the Haight remained owned principally by white Anglo families, a half century later, these families were now landlords for the influx of mostly white flower power youth who found it convenient to live near Golden Gate Park.
Thus, there is a generational distinction between the Beatniks, of North Beach, and the Hippies, of Haight-Ashbury. While both drug experimenting hedonist-existentialist youth movements, Beatniks held to nihilist European sensibilities of the espresso sipping post WWII era, while Hippy culture was a straight forward escapist, anti-scientific, Hindu influenced, retro-culture focused on anti-Imperialism and return to home grown organic foods. At the time, many hippies were college students who had dropped out to avoid the Vietnam War draft, escaping into nameless communal living of the larger homes in the Haight. The neighborhood continued to decline, architecturally speaking, until the 1980's when just over the hill, the Castro gay-lesbian culture emerged, ultimately bringing in a new generation of workers willing to sink business and professional dollars into restoring the old Victorian homes.
Today, gone are Hippies who have not been successful selling used vinyl records, water pipes, or herbal remedies. The street has faced unfortunate corporate restaurant incursion of the grey sort found in any urban center, but there do remain many small counter-culture restaurants and businesses tourists would want to visit.
We are both children of the 60s/70s and a trip to the Haight-Ashbury area was a must-do. Parking was easy to find on the day we went (friday) and we walked around for an hour or so, checking out the head shops, t-shirts, got a burger for lunch and listened to the buskers. Great vibe, still!
Flower Power of the 60's and all of the isms (Communism, Feminism, Authorianism, etc) plus the free spirits hehehe. Before the Present clean, Hip and Techno Savvy New Age Movement, there was the hippie culture (drugs, orgy, sex) and nothing is more Representative of the Hippie Movement than Haight/Ashbury District. Neo-punks, club kids, fashionites, tourists and neighborhood folks are equally at home here, whether they have come to get a new piercing, grab a burrito, find the latest drum 'n' bass 12-inch or just people-watch from a café. But save for a few hippie relics, the Haight today is a whole new scene. Exclusive boutiques, high-end vintage-clothing shops, second-hand stores, Internet cafés and hip restaurants have all settled in, making the Haight one of San Francisco's commercial centers. a walk around it is quite an experience.
we all know that the haight ashbury is the center of hippies and flower children and the free spirits, the world peaceniks of the way so liberal and drug induced 60's and until the present, retains some of it's quite notorious charm in the assorted shops that feature a tribute to the WEED! (marijuana to the common folks!) marijuana was the quintissential drug of the 60's (although lsd, ampthetamines, hashish, heroin and others were alsopopular but marijuana takes the cake in being the number one). well the hippies are mostly gone today but their influence is still felt here (pls see my pictures) hehehe.
a caveat: they don't real WEED here! just some weed inspired things and trinkets!
This is The Haight you've heard about - that epicenter of the anti-war, counterculture movement of the mid 1960's when thousands of disenfranchised youth, drawn by ballyhoo of its peace/love/rock-and-roll ambience, descended on this corner of San Francisco. The romance and reality of the Haight-Ashbury days are two completely different stories - all those people created a whole lot of unlovely issues - but while most of the "flower people" have long since faded into the Establishment they once so disdained, the neighborhood retains just enough of its colorful, wild-child self to make an old hippie happy. Here's where you go to find that tie-dyed T-shirt, gauzy skirt, vintage LP, groovy psychedelic poster or other piece of 60's nostalgia. Good restaurants (see my Pork Store tip), coffeehouses and fun bars, too. Combine your visit here with Alamo Square, Lower Haight, Buena Vista Park and the panhandle of Golden Gate Park.
The Haight was originally a middle-class neighborhood developed in the late 1800's, when a new cable car line was built to connect downtown to Golden Gate Park. Many turn-of-the-century structures survived the 1906 earthquake and urban development, and recent, on-going gentrification of the area is producing beautiful restorations of its large concentration of Queen Anne and Eastlake-style homes. Here is a nice on-line walking tour of some of the more interesting buildings:
This is not The Haight that most visitors come to see - that infamous Hippie Central of the '60's that's known as Upper Haight and lies to the west of this area. Lower Haight is the eastern section and along Haight Street, roughly between Divisadero and Webster, is a great stretch of early19th-century architecture, restaurants, bars and a handful of shops. I understand that the young folks will find some lively nightlife here. Anyway, do include this in rambles to Alamo Square and Upper Haight as it's definitely worth the gander.
Here's a map of the general Haight district with eateries, pubs and whatnot highlighted (Lower Haight is on the right side):
Below is another site with some links to more info on some of those places.
Although I knew Summer of Love happened 40 years before (1965-67) I still wanted to walk on the streets where many interesting things happened especially in rock music. Many of my favorite bands like Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane were living here but what you can see today are only some renovated expensive houses. We started our tour from Buena Vista Park(pic 4) and walked for a while at some peaceful side streets.
Pic 1 show the house where Janis Joplin lived (at 112 Lyon Street) and Pic 2 shows the big house (710 Ashbury Street) where the collective of Grateful Dead gatherred, lived and created their amazing albums. Of course a lot of not so good things happened there too with many hippies falling into drugs for good, a lot of riots, fights with the police etc
Haight Ashbury is located right next to Golden Gate Park where the hippies used to gather those days. As I said that period is long gone and Haight street is focusing to tourists that want to buy some nostalgia so you can see many stores with vintage clothes etc We smiled at Cherry Garcia cones at the Ben & Jerry icecream shop (located at the crossroad of Haight & Ashbury), saw some of the graffity (pic3) on the walls, we avoid some junkies and beggars, we stopped at the once famous Red Victorian bed Breakfast and Art (pic 5, it was built in 1904 it is full of psychedelic paintings), we checked some record stores and the end we left the decadence behind us back to the modern city.
Haight-Ashbury, named for the major intersection in this neighborhood, was our destination for our last morning in San Francisco, we walked the length of Haight Street checking out all the funky shops with their colorful imaginative exteriors and then since it wasn't quite lunchtime yet, we grabbed a slice of pizza at Escape from New York pizzeria and then had a walk down some of the side streets to check out some of the painted ladies, those would be houses, not streetwalkers! Our final stop was at Cha Cha Cha for a Caribbean lunch and then back on the bus that brought us there.
In the 1960s this area was the center of the hippie movement and "the summer of love" in 1967. Back on my 2nd trip in the late 1980s I thought the area was a little more seedy and edgy than I did on this visit, I suspect that my reaction is due partially to not being a naive wide eyed college kid anymore but also a bit of gentrification in the area. While there are plenty of street people that you will find yourself stepping over or around as you walk Haight Street, I didn't find this neighborhood at all dangerous to walk around, certainly not in the daytime anyway.
Here's another district that has changed quite a bit over the years! The Haight started out as a middle-class surburb towards the end of the 19th century. In fact, the many large Victorian and Queen Anne houses that grace most of its streets are not exactly what comes to mind when you think "Haight-Ashbury and the Hippies"! However, the area underwent a long period of decline starting in the 1930s so that by the time the "Summer of Love" came around, most houses had been divided into appartments and a somewhat ecclectic community had settled in.
Today, Haight-Ashbury remains the place to go for all your vintage t-shirts, hemp-related products and smoking paraphernalia needs! Window shopping is most definitely a fun thing to do on Haight Street: the small independent shops are so full of surprisingly unique items, you never know what you might find - in fact, I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted a t-shirt of the Quebec City Alouettes, a long-forgotten baseball team from the 1940s!! And if you're not the shopping kind, then you might want to sit down and grab something to eat at one of the street's several restaurants and cafes while watching the area's colorful residents go by. It isn't the Summer of Love anymore, but there's still something really cool about Haight-Ashbury :o)
Think weed, think hippy, think alternative. You have Haight and Ashbury. Situated on San Francisco’s east side this district is a haven for all things different. Check out local spots for happy hour and cheap eats, then wander along upper height, ducking into its many bars.
Make friends with the locals, hit up the juke boxes, and knock back the cheap drinks (the cheapest we found in SF). The next day head to Golden Gate park to complete your hippy dippy experience, sit on the smokers hill as you get into the park and watch the world go by.
This was fun. It wasn't the Sixties, but it took us back. Wish we'd had more time. People were mellower than elsewhere in town. Do not miss this truly pleasurable experience. Like snowflakes, no two are the same, but they're all enjoyable.
Wow! I just went on this tour called the Haunted Haight Walking Tour and it was awesome! This is really the best ghost tour in the city. Why? The guide is a real ghost hunter! He spent the night on Alcatraz! WOW! Check out his organization called San Francisco Ghost Society www.sfghostsociety.org
I was very impressed to see that his society is a TAPS family member too! He is the real deal. I went on this tour really for all the cool history and my husband and I love Victorians and the Haight-Ashbury has a lot. He talks all about the Victorians and you see some amazing places you usually would never see unless you go on a walking tour. He made us feel like we were all just friends on a walk. The other party of four people were really sweet. He cracked me up a lot! What a funny guy! He gave away prizes and gave us all a free book with all the stories and pictures! Well worth it and it was only $20. Best part was it ended at a haunted bar...I'll keep which one a secret! The tour starts at a coffee shop called COFEE TO THE PEOPLE @ 1206 Masonic. Check out the website. www.hauntedhaight.com
I must say I left this tour not feeling tired. There are no hills on it at all! Can you believe that in San Francisco. My husband and I really want to experience the real San Francisco from a local's point of view, so some friends recommended this tour. That is the best way to travel and feel like a local. We were amazed at how funny and intelligent this ghost hunter was who lead the tour. He has lived in the Haight for a long time and he really knows his stuff! We learned how to debunk ghosts and what tools ghost hunter's use and saw some cool hauted areas. and I must admit, we experienced some strange stuff in front of this one place. I was pretty scared but it was really thrilling! This is not one of those "cheesy" ghost tours that we've taken in Frisco before. This is a local guide doing good things for folks in the city. Don't miss it!
Wow! I just went on this tour called the Haunted Haight and it was awesome! This is really the best ghost tour in the city.
Why? The guy is a real ghost hunter! Check out his organization called San Francisco Ghost Society www.sfghostsociety.org
I was very impressed to see that his society is a TAPS family member! I went on this tour really for all the cool history and really wonderful architecture! He gave away prizes and gave us all a free book with all the stories and pictures! Well worth it and it was only $20. Best part was it ended at a haunted bar...I'll keep which one a secret! The tour starts at a coffee shop called COFEE TO THE PEOPLE @ 1206 Masonic. Check out the website. www.hauntedhaight.com
I must say I left this tour not feeling tired. There are really no hills on it at all! Can you believe that in San Francisco. My husband and I brought some friends from out of town and they were amazed at how funny and intelligent this ghost hunter was who lead the tour. He really knows his stuff and loves ghosts and helping people debunk ghosts too! This is not one of the cheesy ghost tours that play tricks on you, but a real ghost tour. We loved it!
There's not much I can write here that hasn't been written. This area became famous in the sixties for the hippe movement. It really is a cool area with funky shops and great people watching. I saw a man in a cape and knee pads barreling down the street like he was on a mission.