Living With the Hippies in Haight-Ashbury

Welcome to Haight-Ashbury; home of the Summer of Love

Best known for it’s integral role in the 1960s hippie revolution, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury it still a magnet for travelers, drifters, tourists and hippies of all ages, shapes and sizes.

From 2009-2012, it also was my home.

 

Beautiful and colorful buildings line Haight Street in San Francisco, like these located down Central Street between Haight and Page
Beautiful and colorful buildings line Haight Street in San Francisco, like these located down Central Street between Haight and Page

Life Living A Block Off Haight-Ashbury

Before moving to San Francisco, the only neighborhood I could name was Haight-Ashbury.

That made it all the more perfect when my fiance, Carrie, found us the perfect place to live on a quiet tree-lined street called Delmar in the Upper Haight district before I even got here.

By day, tourbuses and visitors pack Haight Street, pausing to take a photo in front of the Haight-Ashbury sign or to hit up a head shop, restaurant, souvenir store or trendy boutique.

Local musicians spread out their tip collectors and a few scattered hippies roam the street.

 

Three bands converge in front of Villains on Haight Street to form a mega-band that would exist only for a few hours that one day
Three bands converge in front of Villains on Haight Street to form a mega-band that would exist only for a few hours that one day

 

Haight Street has numerous India and Orient-themed shops like The Love of Ganesha
Haight Street has numerous India and Orient-themed shops like The Love of Ganesha

Everything Changes At Night

Once the sunsets, the tourists dissipate and the rest of the hippies emerge from Golden Gate Park, where they spend their days hanging out in the shade, and take to Haight Street for the evening.

I’ll interject here and stress that I write about and use the term hippie lovingly throughout this story.

These free spirits come from far and wide for the chance to spend time living on the streets of the fabled Haight-Ashbury.

After spending a lot of time chatting with the street’s ever changing population, I’ve noticed a few trends in their reasons for being there.

Recurring themes include “things were beat at home,” “Jack Keraouc’s The Road was a big influence,” “where else would I want to be” and “my friends are here.”

 

A local merchant places colorful products in his window on the corner of Haight and Clayton
A local merchant places colorful products in his window on the corner of Haight and Clayton

Waccha Doin? Who Ya Doin it With?

Sitting, standing or walking, one rarely spots a pair of dreadlocks without another by its side. Groups organically form at random spots on the street and dissipate just as quickly.

Sign making is an art among the hippies, as they know all it takes is a good laugh to get a passerby’s donation.

Topics of conversation range from the plight of the world to aimless banter to shared memories of a previous meeting at one of the other locations on the self-titled Pacific Coast Hippie Trail.

These groovy gathering grounds consist of anywhere like-minded people can congregate, such as Portland, Berkeley, Santa Rosa and much of Mendocino County.

 

Pick a subject, name a price and this guy will write you a poem on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco
Pick a subject, name a price and this guy will write you a poem on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco

 

Flyers are posted all over windows in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco
Flyers are posted all over windows in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco

It Feels Like I’m Traveling

The hippie scene in Haight-Ashbury often reminds me of the backpacker scene I exist in while on my extended travel adventures.

That’s why I feel a sort of bond with the people I talk to on the street and understand their desire to spend each day experiencing something new.

 

A church next to Buena Vista Park on San Francisco's Haight Street
A church next to Buena Vista Park on San Francisco’s Haight Street

 

Graffiti in an alleyway next to Amoeba Records on Haight Street
Graffiti in an alleyway next to Amoeba Records on Haight Street

Golden Gate Park is Right Next Door

There’s no better place to be than Golden Gate Park on a sunny afternoon.

On Hippie Hill, one is sure to find a drum circle beating away and flowing dresses swirling around in front of them. At times, the circle gets so loud that I can even hear it from my home ten blocks away.

Once a year the masses descend on Hippie Hill for the annual 4/20 celebration. It’s a scene like no other that can only be a small glimpse into what living in the 1960s must have been like.

 

Dalano and Crew at the Golden Gate Park 4-20 Celebration
Dalano and Crew at the Golden Gate Park 4-20 Celebration. Check out The Real Star Movement, as featured in the above photo.

 

This preacher attends every 4-20 celebration in Golden Gate Park and withstands verbal abuse while screaming about the sins of those around him through a megaphone
This preacher attends every 4-20 celebration in Golden Gate Park and withstands verbal abuse while screaming about the sins of those around him through a megaphone

 

Haight Street Grocery Store Full on April 20, 2011
Haight Street Grocery Store Full on April 20, 2011

A Video’s Worth More than 100,000 Words

So kick back, put on some Greatful Dead and have a look at the flow of life on Haight-Ashbury today.

 


Where is your favorite hippie hangout?

  • It’s such a unique area. I only had a few hours there, but they were splendid.