The Haight was the center of a small universe in the late 60s as the Summer of Love supplanted Swinging London’s mid-60s perch atop the heap of youth influence. Victorians seemed the perfect homes for these long-haired hippies clad in flowery clothes seeming of another era. Janis Joplin, The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead all called The Haight home. Well, it went downhill since then but has started to really revitalize itself. There is still a seedy element to the area but the Victorians are worth too much money to fall into further disrepair so they’re being renovated to no end, and higher end shops have replaced many of the “head” shops of the past. It all has a flower power tinge to it but you get the feeling it’s more for show (and to make money) than for any real yearning for the better vibes of another time. The lower Haight is more authentic and retains some edgy flair. Closer to the park, you find more tourists and those looking for an already passé life, but certainly its worth checking out on your way to or from Golden Gate Park. It’s a nice enough place to do some window shopping, people watch and there are lots of good cheap places to eat. Oh, and don’t forget the Magnolia Pub & Brewery right in the center of it all as well as Toronado in the lower Haight, both great places to soak in local color and enjoy the local brews too.
The 60's Age of Aquarius is still going on in parts of the SF Bay Area. Haight-Ashbury certainly can give you reminders of those days of flower children & the peace movement. The same is true in downtown Berkeley on certain streets & in Marin County in Fairfax. You'll see tie-dyed clothes and crystal shops as well as some homeless people. Don't be afraid to stop & look in some of the more interesting shops in the Haight-Ashbury area. There are some good restaurants there, too. The neighborhood is a little neglected these days, but still represents the 60's revolution.
No trip to Haight Street would be complete without catching a film at the Red Vic. All through the 80's and 90's the Red Vic packed 'em in for everything from first run movies to the wierdest art films imaginable. Famed for it's comfy couches and homemade munchies, it was originally located in the ground floor of the Red Victorian B&B two blocks down (hence the name). The B&B's owner - Sami Sunchild - yep, that's really her name - decided she wanted to expand and the Red Vic had to go. It opened up shop in a defunkt nightclub called the Full Moon - where it sits today.
The couches are gone - replaced by "couch-style" seating, but the vibe of the place remains. This place is a true Haight Street original and if you're going to see a movie then this is the best place in the city to go to (with the possible exception of the Castro Theater).
Be sure to get the popcorn with butter and brewers' yeast. Yum!
Going to Haight Street is a bit like stepping into a time machine. The atmosphere there is much more 1960's than early 21st century. There are actually people, hippies, handing out political flyers on the street who have been doing so for over 40 years. Haight Street is also the home of many, many cool shops and restaurants including anarchist book stores, coffee houses, head shops, and unique clothing boutiques. The characters on the street are also great material for people watching. You will find everyone here from the aforementioned hippes and punk rockers sporting green mohawks, to goth students looking for a handout of loose change.
As you may know, Haight Street was once the home of such 60's rock icons as Janis Joplin and The Greatful Dead. The houses they lived in are still standing and marked out front with plaques for those interested in seeing them.
I was in San Franciso one week after Grateful Dead singer, Jerry Garcia's, death, so Haight was loaded with mourning Deadheads paying their final respects with one last roadtrip.
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:
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)
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.
This tour is awesome. It tells all about the Haunted Houses, scary stories, and urban legends of the Haight-Ashbury District. The tour goes on most nights. See the website for exact dates The tour guide is this really cool "big" guy, so you feel totally protected! LOL He is so funny and really knows his ghosts. He is the founder of a ghost hunting group on SF. It is only $20 a person and I think he gives a discount on groups of 10 or more... Don't miss this one, it is so cool!
Haight Ashbury used to be the hippy heighborhood. There are beautiful victorian houses all around. It's full of really trendy and expensive stores (clothes and shoes). There are also some used clothes stores. The people all around are very diverse, like nearly everywhere in SF.
The Summer of Love was a phrase given to the summer of 1967 to try to describe the feeling of being in San Francisco that summer, when the hippie movement began. The actual beginning of this "Summer" can be attributed to the Human Be-In that took place in Golden Gate Park on January 14 of that year. Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and the Jefferson Airplane all participated in the event, a celebration of hippie culture and values. The center of this 'tune in, turn on and drop out" movement was San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. It was a special time when the peace movement marched through its streets and the neighborhood grew to symbolize an era.
Artists such as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin used to make their homes here. Landmark seekers still photograph the former homes of Janis Joplin at 112 Lyon and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia at 710 Ashbury. Those 60s 'flower children' can recall the Red Victorian, a brightly colored, 18-room guesthouse, as the "Jeffrey Haight", a crash pad during Haight-Ashbury's glory days. A psychedelic hub around which a generation's values crystallized, the Haight set an agenda that was solidly antiwar, pro-free food and free love, and stood ready to challenge the capitalist state.
Today the Haight continues to be a popular destination for those trying to find the "the Summer of Love". They try to find it in the head shops and stores making the hand-made tributes past memories, and in the drum circles on nearby Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadow. But time has brought trendy boutiques, restaurants and novelty shops to replace less profit-oriented neighborhood businesses. The discovery of a Gap on the famed corner of Haight and Ashbury daily makes disillusioned pilgrims moan at the irony. The Haight is a combination of affluent shop owners and homeowners, burned-out hippies and destitute street people, youngsters with their hands out and credit cards in their back pocket, as well as those seeking a countercultural lifestyle.
Upper Haight is the spot to go for the ultimate selection of vintage clothing stores, crackheads, and overpriced shoes. At the end of Haight (across the street from Cala Foods) is Amoeba, the most kick ass record store in the world. You can find anything there that was ever recorded. Go to Aadvarks for a great selection of vintage fashion. Stop at the International Cafe for a coffee and sandwich and listen to their jazz band rock out. A warning: don't ever buy anything off people on the street, I have heard lots of horror stories.
What once supposedly was a theater (not the Straight theater - no one remembers which one) on Haight Street is now a strange clothing store called Wasteland.
No one working inside could tell me what it used to be. Does anyone know? Address is 1660 Haight St. between Clayton and Cole.
The Straight Theater was at 1748 Haight so I don't remember what this was - maybe it is "new" and wasn't anything at all....??
I like the architecture though, especially the detail.
This little tiny dinky theater is smack dab in the Haight. This place plays movies like:
Delicatessen, Willy Wonka, Poltergeist & Run Lola Run. Ok, not only is that cool but there are little couches to sit on, and they serve coffee in mugs and popcorn in bowls. The staff is very rugged and committed to a very unique movie going experience. I must say, that I have had no problems bringing in beers.
My favorite moment at the Red Vic: every Christmas day (if I’m in town) I roll and nice fat joint and head out to the Red Vic for a matinee of Harold and Maude. Some how this always this puts everything right for me.
Two big thumbs up for the Red Vic!
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.