Haight-Ashbury: Wikis


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—  Neighborhood of San Francisco  —
Corner of Haight and Ashbury streets.
Nickname(s): The Haight, Upper Haight
 - Board of Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi
 - State Assembly Tom Ammiano D)
 - State Senate Mark Leno (D)
 - U.S. House Nancy Pelosi (D)
 - Total 1 km2 (0.390 sq mi)
 - Land 1 km2 (0.390 sq mi)
 - Total 10,551
 - Density 10,453.3/km2 (27,074/sq mi)
ZIP Code 94117
Area code(s) 415

Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, USA, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. It is commonly called The Haight.



Haight Street

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 street names themselves commemorate two early San Francisco leaders: Pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight,[2] or, (though it is arguable) the tenth governor of California, Henry Huntley Haight,the former's nephew. 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 lends his name to the latter street.[3] 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 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 upper Haight 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.


Before the completion of the Haight Street Cable Railroad in 1883, what is now the Haight-Ashbury was a collection of isolated farms and acres of sand dunes. The Haight cable car line, completed in 1883, connected the west end of Golden Gate Park with the geographically central Market Street line and the rest of downtown of San Francisco. The cable car, land grading and building techniques of the 1890s and early 20th century reinvented the Haight-Ashbury as a residential upper middle class homeowners' district. It was one of the few neighborhoods spared from the fires that followed the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

The Haight was hit hard by the Depression, as was much of the city. Residents with enough money to spare left the declining and crowded neighborhood for greener pastures within the growing city limits, or newer, smaller suburban homes in the Bay Area. During the housing shortage of World War II, large single-family Victorians were divided into apartments to house workers. Others were converted into boarding homes for profit. By the 1950s, the Haight was a neighborhood in decline. Many buildings were left vacant after the war. Deferred maintenance also took its toll, and the exodus of middle class residents to newer suburbs continued to leave many units for rent.

In the 1950s, a freeway was proposed that would have run through the Panhandle, but due to a citizen freeway revolt it was cancelled in a series of battles that lasted until 1966.[4][5] The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) was formed at the time of the 1959 revolt.[6] HANC is still active in the neighborhood as of 2008.[7]

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.[8] The bohemian subculture that subsequently flourished there took root, and to a great extent, has remained to this day.[9]

Summer of Love

The neighborhood became the center of the San Francisco Renaissance and with it, the rise of a drug culture and rock-and-roll lifestyle by the mid '60s. College and high-school students began streaming into the Haight during the spring break of 1967. San Francisco's government leaders, determined to stop the influx of young people once schools let out for the summer, unwittingly brought additional attention to the scene, and an ongoing series of articles in local papers alerted the national media to the hippies' growing numbers. By spring, Haight community leaders responded by forming the Council of the Summer of Love, giving the word-of-mouth event an official-sounding name.[10]

The mainstream media's coverage of hippie life in the Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America. Hunter S. Thompson labeled the district "Hashbury" in The New York Times Magazine, and the activities in the area were reported almost daily.[11]. During that year, the neighborhood's fame reached its peak as it became the haven for a number of the top 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.

During 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)," written by John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas, became a hit single in 1967. 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 the Grateful Dead, 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"[2] 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.

The Summer of Love attracted a wide range of people of various ages: teenagers and college students drawn by their peers and the allure of joining a cultural utopia; middle-class vacationers; and even partying military personnel from bases within driving distance. The Haight-Ashbury could not accommodate this rapid influx of people, and the neighborhood scene quickly deteriorated. Overcrowding, homelessness, hunger, drug problems, and crime afflicted the neighborhood. Many people simply left in the fall to resume their college studies.[12] On October 6, 1967, those remaining in the Haight staged a mock funeral, "The Death of the Hippie" ceremony, to signal the end of the played-out scene.[10] Mary Kasper explained the message of the mock funeral as follows:

We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, don't come out. Stay where you are! Bring the revolution to where you live. Don't come here because it's over and done with.[13]

That message was taken literally as the large crowds did not come back in the following years, as the neighborhood, and in particular Haight Street, fell into decline from the 1970s though the 1980s. Citywide gentrification in the 1990s, brought newer residents to the area in the form of young urban professionals, and twenty somethings and thirty somethings living the hipster lifestyle. During this period, local store owners and merchants, looking to capitalize on its past Summer of Love legacy turned the street into a tourist attraction to which is remains today as Haight Street is one of the city's top tourist attractions and is often crowded with tourists year-round. Corporate chains moved onto Haight Street during the 1990s also eager to capitalize on its past history. Clothing chain The Gap operated a store on the corner of Haight-Ashbury until it was recently closed. Around that same period, the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Chain, opened a store at that location.

Attractions & Characteristics

Stores on Haight Street.
Haight-Ashbury "Painted Lady" Victorians.
The Red Victorian a popular theatre and hotel

The area still maintains its bohemian ambiance, though the effects of gentrification are also apparent. Though Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is now located at the famous Haight-Ashbury intersection, the neighborhood remains a thriving center of independent local businesses. It is home to a number of independent restaurants and bars, as well as clothing boutiques, booksellers, head shops and record stores including the well-known Amoeba Music. The cohabitation between throw-backs to the Fifties lounge scene, the organic and spiritual New Age ambiance via the Sixties, and the punk-rock scene of the Seventies and beyond is one of the neighborhood's most interesting and endearing aspects that attracts large amounts of tourists to the neighborhood making it a major tourist attraction.

The Red Victorian hotel is also a popular attraction as well.

The neighborhood is home to many restored Victorian houses. Painted Lady Victorians are a common sight throughout the neighborhood.

The past legacy of the Summer of Love continues to attract large amounts of runaway youth that camp on Haight Street, on surrounding streets or in nearby Golden Gate Park and engage in activities ranging from street performances, to drug use and panhandling to tourists. Considered a nuisance by the city and by neighborhood residents, attempts to relocate current ones, and discourage new ones from coming.

Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is held on the second Sunday of June each year, during which Haight Street is closed down between Stanyan and Masonic, with one sound stage at each end. This is a rather crowded event due to heavy tourism.

Recreational facilities include Buena Vista Park the oldest official park in San Francisco. The Panhandle extension of Golden Gate Park also forms the southern boundary of the neighborhood as many of those who participated in the Summer of Love camped there.

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "San Francisco Streets Named for Pioneers". Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/street/stnames4.html. Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  3. ^ Loewenstein, Louis (1984). Streets of San Francisco: The Origins of Street & Place Names. San Francisco: Lexikos. pp. 5. ISBN 093850275.  
  4. ^ Adams, Gerald (2003-03-28), "Farewell to freeway: Decades of revolt force Fell Street off-ramp to fall", San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2003/03/28/MN257078.DTL  
  5. ^ Starr, Jerold (1985), Cultural Politics: Radical Movements in Modern History, Praeger, ISBN 9780030625220  
  6. ^ Rodriguez, Joseph (1999), City Against Suburb: The Culture Wars in an American Metropolis, Praeger, p. 40, ISBN 9780275964061, http://books.google.com/books?lr=&id=1ym7AAAAIAAJ&dq=san+francisco+panhandle+freeway&q=116&pgis=1  
  7. ^ Nevius, C.W. (2008-10-28), "New community activists flex muscle in Haight", San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/27/BA7L13P0D8.DTL  
  8. ^ Ashbolt, Anthony (December 2007), "'Go Ask Alice': Remembering the Summer of Love Forty Years On", Australasian Journal of American Studies 26 (2): 35, http://www.anzasa.arts.usyd.edu.au/a.j.a.s/Articles/2_07/Ashbolt.pdf  
  9. ^ White, Dan (2009-01-09), "In San Francisco, Where Flower Power Still Blooms", New York Times, http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/travel/escapes/09american.html  
  10. ^ a b "The Year of the Hippie: Timeline". PBS.org. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/love/sfeature/timeline.html. Retrieved 2007-04-24.  .
  11. ^ T. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee, (Oxford University Press, 1995), p.174
  12. ^ Gail Dolgin; Vicente Franco. (2007). American Experience: The Summer of Love. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/love/index.html. Retrieved 2007-04-23.  
  13. ^ "Transcript (for American Experience documentary on the Summer of Love)". PBS and WGBH. 2007-03-14. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/love/filmmore/pt.html.  


  • Perry, Charles. The Haight-Ashbury: A History. Wenner Books, 2005. Original publication: 1984.

External links

Coordinates: 37°46′12″N 122°26′49″W / 37.770015°N 122.446937°W / 37.770015; -122.446937

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