HaightAshbury in San Francisco
Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. It is also called The Haight and The Upper 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 street names commemorate two early San Francisco leaders: Pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight and Munroe Ashbury, 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 name "Upper Haight", used by locals, is in contrast to the Haight-Fillmore or Lower Haight district; 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 Haight-Ashbury district is noted 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 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. The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) was formed at the time of the 1959 revolt. HANC is still active in the neighborhood as of 2008.
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.
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, 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. 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. Mary Kasper explained the message of the mock funeral as follows:
Attractions and characteristics
The area still maintains its bohemian ambiance, though the effects of gentrification are also apparent and continually changing. 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 Amoeba Music. The cohabitation between throw-backs to the Fifties lounge scene, organic and spiritual New Age ambiance of the Sixties, punk-rock politics and computer culture is one of the neighborhood's most interesting and endearing aspects socially and artistically.
The Red Victorian hotel is also a popular attraction. An independent theater of the same name operated about a block away from the hotel from 1980 to 2011.
The neighborhood is home to many restored Victorian houses. Painted Lady Victorians are a common sight throughout the neighborhood.
The Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is held on the second Sunday of June each year, during which Haight Street is closed between Stanyan and Masonic, with one sound stage at each end.
- Chinese Immersion School at De Avila
- Counterculture of the 1960s
- Haight Ashbury Beat
- I-Beam (nightclub)
- Kerista Commune
- Magnolia Thunderpussy
- The Process Church of The Final Judgment (religious movement formerly based in Haight-Ashbury)
- The Red Victorian
- San Francisco Renaissance
- Summer of Love
- Perry, Charles. The Haight-Ashbury: A History. Wenner Books, 2005. Original publication: 1984.
- The Haight-Ashbury 30 Years Ago: A Timeline
- The Maze: Haight/Ashbury – 1967 KPIX-TV documentary about the Haight-Ashbury district presented by writer Michael McClure, from the Digital Information Virtual Archive at San Francisco State University
Geographic situation within San Francisco