Saturday, June 13, 2009
What trip to San Francisco would be complete without a stop in the Haight-Ashbury district, most notably the heart- the intersection of Haight and Ashbury. After all isn't this where 'it' all started? Americans and soon the world learned a little more about ourselves here. We went on a sunday morning and the shops were not yet open. On the corner opposite of the photo above sits a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream shop- how fitting. Hmmmm It has been a while since I had my favorite- Cherry Garcia! Peace and Love. . .
A Little History of Haight-Ashbury
Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, US, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets. It is commonly called The Haight. The district generally encompasses the neighborhood surrounding Haight Street, bounded by Stanyan Street and Golden Gate Park on the West, Oak Street and the Golden Gate Park Panhandle on the North, Baker Street and Buena Vista Park to the East, and Frederick Street and Ashbury Heights and Cole Valley neighborhoods to the South.
The area is further subdivided into the Upper Haight and the Haight-Fillmore or Lower Haight districts; the latter being lower in elevation and part of what was previously the principal African-American and Japanese neighborhoods in San Francisco's early years. The street names themselves commemorate two early San Francisco leaders: Pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight, or, (though it is arguable) the tenth governor of California, Henry Huntley Haight,the former's nephew, and Munroe Ashbury, one of the city's first politicians, who served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1864 to 1870. Both Haight and his nephew as well as Ashbury had a hand in the planning of the neighborhood, and, more importantly, nearby Golden Gate Park at its inception.
The district is famous for its role as a center of the 1960s hippie movement, a post-runner and closely associated offshoot of the Beat generation or beat movement, members of which swarmed San Francisco's "in" North Beach neighborhood two to eight years before the "Summer of Love" in 1967. Many who could not find space to live in San Francisco's northside found it in the quaint, relatively cheap and underpopulated Haight-Ashbury. The '60s era and modern American counterculture have been synonymous with San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood ever since.
The Haight-Ashbury's elaborately detailed, 19th-century multi-story wooden houses became a haven for hippies during the 1960s, due to the availability of cheap rooms and vacant properties for rent or sale in the district; property values had dropped in part because of the proposed freeway.The bohemian subculture that subsequently flourished there took root, and to a great extent, has remained to this day.
San Francisco and the Haight gained a reputation as the center of illegal drug culture and rock-and-roll lifestyles by the mid '60s, especially with the use of marijuana and LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. By 1967, the neighborhood's fame chiefly rested on the fact that it became the haven for a number of important psychedelic rock performers and groups of the time. Acts like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin all lived a short distance from the famous intersection. They not only immortalized the scene in song, but also knew many within the community as friends and family. Another well-known neighborhood presence was The Diggers, a local "community anarchist" group famous for its street theatre who also provided free food to residents every day.
By the "Summer of Love", psychedelic rock music was entering the mainstream, receiving more and more commercial radio airplay. The song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" became a hit single. The Monterey Pop Festival in June further cemented the status of psychedelic music as a part of mainstream culture and elevated local Haight bands such as Big Brother and the Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane to national stardom. A July 7, 1967, Time magazine cover story on "The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture," an August CBS News television report on "The Hippie Temptation" and other major media interest in the hippie subculture exposed the Haight-Ashbury district to enormous national attention and popularized the counterculture movement across the country and around the world. Thousands of youth migrated to the Haight-Ashbury district during the flower power movement, including many runaway teenagers, irrevocably altering the social structure of the neighborhood and the world's views of San Francisco as a city.