A Trip Back in Time to Haight Ashbury


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October 22nd 2008
Saved: February 12th 2013
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Famous Intersection of Haight and AshburyFamous Intersection of Haight and AshburyFamous Intersection of Haight and Ashbury

How many times has this appeared in magazines, or TV?
Probably the most colorful place to visit in San Francisco is the area known as Haight Ashbury, or as locals say, "the Haight". It gained its fame in the 60's during the flower child, hippie, peace, love, dope era. I visited several times there in the 60's, but never really particpated in any sit ins, drug ins, music concerts, or political protests.

We certainly appreciate it a little more now. It is safer, and a fun place to shop. It was primarily an African American, and Japanese American neighborhood in the early days of the City. It is named for Henry Haight, and his nephew, Monroe Ashbury. Before the 1967 Summer of Love, many San Francisco residents found this area to be quaint, relatively cheap, and underpopulated.

As the Haight gained a reputation as a haven for illegal drugs, and rock and roll lifestyles, it became synonymous with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Janis Joplin. Marijuana, LSD, and other hallucinogens were at the core of this. As a new population migrated in, Dr. David Smith formed the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic, the first such clinic without a religious affiliation. It migrated
Where is Kenny Now?Where is Kenny Now?Where is Kenny Now?

Ken Kesey's famous bus, home to many.
to the Mission District in 2007.

The Haight remains quite Bohemian to this day, although Ben and Jerry's has made a home here. We like to shop here for the clothing and shoe boutiques. On our last visit, I bought a shirt at Kweejibo, a custom shirtmaker. "Simpsons" fans will recognize the name of this shop as a made-up word from one of the show's early episodes. That has nothing to do with the fashions at this men's-clothing boutique. All clothes are designed by the shop's owner and made locally. Some of the button-up shirts are retro style. Sheri bought a purse, at a purse emporium called Stuf. We have purchased shoes at Villains. We had coffee at an independent coffee house, not a Starbucks. The area is still home to many head shops, music stores, dive bars, organic food places, and alternative bookstores.

But the image here is still of the 60's hippie culture. It smells and looks like it in many ways. The flower power, incense-burning, acid-dropping, tie-dye wearing, peace and love making era can still be found, at smoke shops and Eastern influenced outlets. They have names like Dreams of Kathmandu, Pipe Dreams and the
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We saw Arlo in Berkeley last year, still going strong, with This Land Is Your Land.
Love of Ganesha. Many high end boutiques have moved in as well as vintage clothing stores, second hand shops, internet cafes, and hip restaurants. It is a commercial center of the City.

Tourists still come here to take photos of the famous street sign of Haight and Ashbury. Parking is a real hassle. The sidewalks and gutters are filthy. Homeless abound on both sides of the street. But it is worth a visit if you have never been here. And even if you have, you probably do not remember.


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