The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon in 1967 with more than 100,000 people passing through the streets of San Francisco. This year marks the 50th anniversary and the whole city of San Francisco will be celebrating with outdoor music festivals, VW bus tours, and eclectic street fairs. Bob Cooper of the WSJ fills us in on a walking tour of San Francisco.
WHEN A KID in a tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirt hits you up for change on San Francisco’s Haight Street, don’t be annoyed. He’s only doing his part to keep the spirit of the 1967 Summer of Love alive, a half-century on. Despite the arrival of boutiques selling $840 sneakers and $165 hoodies, and the slow fade of almost every shop that lined the street in the 1960s, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood remains evocatively off-kilter. Old Victorian storefronts and homes, some painted extroverted shades like canary-yellow and indigo, distinguish the district, aka “the Haight” or “the Upper Haight.” And scruffy teens still gravitate to the area, asking for change, whether it’s the monetary or societal kind.
Unfurling from the eastern border of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the Haight served as the epicenter of America’s 1960s counterculture movement. “The Haight-Ashbury was the product of teen rebellion against 1950s’ regimentation and the Vietnam War,” said a guide for the local Flower Power Walking Tour who goes by the name Stannous Flouride. “The anarchic aspect was seen as a threat against the establishment but ultimately had a profound influence on American culture.” Cheap rents, more than anything else, drew the first wave of bohemians in the early 1960s. Legions followed, cresting in 1967 when some 100,000 students, musicians and others flocked to San Francisco for a summer of drug-enhanced communing and revelry that horrified parents. This year, to mark the anniversary, events from concerts to art exhibits are being staged throughout the Bay Area (see summeroflove2017.com for details). You can also take an organized walking tour or go it alone. Here, our self-guided stroll through the hippie era’s heyday.
VICTORIANS THAT RULE
Free love reigned messily during the Summer of Love, mostly in neglected Victorian houses that had become overcrowded, affordable communes. Today many of these “painted ladies” have been renovated and sell for more than $2 million apiece, with copulating hippies replaced by well-paid techies.
Visitors can admire hundreds of elegant, century-old Victorians on a nine-block stroll: Start at the famed corner of Haight and Ashbury (1), walk up Ashbury to Frederick (where you’ll pass Janis Joplin’s house (2) at 635 Ashbury and the Grateful Dead house (3) at 710 Ashbury. It was there that police arrested two Dead musicians and several women living with the band in a drug bust in October, 1967. Next, turn right on Frederick to Clayton, right on Clayton to Page, right on Page to Ashbury, then right on Ashbury to Haight.
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Monterey Pop Box Set
The first and greatest music festival of it’s kind presented here on 4 CDs accompanied by a fully illustrated 88-page booklet. Over 4 hours of legendary performances from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Who, Big Brother & the Holding Company and many more. Click here for a full list of bands.