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Cole Street, left, and Haight Street, right
Cole Street, left, and Haight Street, right
The Haight, Upper Haight, Hashbury,[1] Psychedelphia[1]
Haight-Ashbury is located in San Francisco
Location within Central San Francisco
Coordinates: 37°46′12″N 122°26′49″W / 37.7700°N 122.4469°W / 37.7700; -122.4469
Country United States
State California
City and countySan Francisco
 • SupervisorDean Preston
 • AssemblymemberMatt Haney (D)[2]
 • State senatorScott Wiener (D)[2]
 • U. S. rep.Nancy Pelosi (D)[3]
 • Total0.309 sq mi (0.80 km2)
 • Land0.309 sq mi (0.80 km2)
 • Total10,601
 • Density34,253/sq mi (13,225/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area codes415/628

Haight-Ashbury (/ˌht ˈæʃbɛri, -bəri/) 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.[5] The neighborhood is known as one of the main centers of the counterculture of the 1960s.[6]


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.[7]

The street names commemorate two early San Francisco leaders: pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight,[8] and Munroe Ashbury, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1864 to 1870.[9]

Both Haight and his nephew, as well as Ashbury, had a hand in the planning of the neighborhood and nearby Golden Gate Park at its inception. The name "Upper Haight" is also used by locals in contrast to the Haight-Fillmore or Lower Haight.[5]

The Beats had congregated around San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood from the late 1950s. Many who could not find accommodation there turned to the quaint, relatively cheap and underpopulated Haight-Ashbury.[10]

Haight-Ashbury would later become notable for its role as one of the main centers of the hippie movement. The Summer of Love (1967) and much of the counterculture of the 1960s have been synonymous with San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood ever since.


Farms, entertainment, and homes

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 east end of Golden Gate Park with the geographically central Market Street line and the rest of downtown San Francisco. As the primary gateway to Golden Gate Park, and with an amusement park known as the Chutes[11] on Haight Street between Cole and Clayton Streets between 1895 and 1902[12] and the California League Baseball Grounds stadium opening in 1887, the area became a popular entertainment destination, especially on weekends. The cable car, land grading and building techniques of the 1890s and early 20th century later reinvented the Haight-Ashbury as a residential upper middle class homeowners' district.[13] It was one of the few neighborhoods spared from the fires that followed the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake of 1906.[14]

Depression and war

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 World War II, the Edwardian and Victorian houses 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.[15] The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) was formed at the time of the 1959 revolt.[16]

The Haight-Ashbury's elaborately detailed, 19th century, multi-story, wooden houses became a haven for hippies during the 1960s,[17] 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.[18] The alternative culture that subsequently flourished there took root, and to some extent, has remained to this day.[19]

Hippie community

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.[20] The Haight-Ashbury district was sought out by hippies to constitute a community based upon counterculture ideals, drugs, and music. This neighborhood offered a concentrated gathering spot for hippies to create a social experiment that would soon spread throughout the nation.[18]

The first head shop, Ron and Jay Thelin's Psychedelic Shop, opened on Haight Street on January 3, 1966, offering hippies a spot to purchase marijuana and LSD, which was essential to hippie life in Haight-Ashbury.[21] Along with businesses like the coffee shop The Blue Unicorn, the Psychedelic Shop quickly became one of the unofficial community centers for the growing numbers of hippies migrating to the neighborhood in 1966–67.[22] The entire hippie community had easy access to drugs, which was perceived as a community unifier.[23]

Another well-known neighborhood presence was the Diggers, a local "community anarchist" group known for its street theater, formed in the mid to late 1960s. One well known member of the group was Peter Coyote. The Diggers believed in a free society and the good in human nature. To express their belief, they established a free store, gave out free meals daily, and built a free medical clinic, which was the first of its kind, all of which relied on volunteers and donations.[24] The Diggers were strongly opposed to a capitalistic society; they felt that by eliminating the need for money, people would be free to examine their own personal values, which would provoke people to change the way they lived to better suit their character, and thus lead a happier life.[25]

During the 1967 Summer of Love, psychedelic rock music was entering the mainstream, receiving more and more commercial radio airplay. The Scott McKenzie song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," became a hit that year. 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"[26] 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 neighborhood's fame reached its peak as it became the haven for a number of psychedelic rock performers and groups of the time. The members of many bands lived close to the intersection. They not only immortalized the scene in song, but also knew many within the community.[27]

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 left in the autumn to resume their college studies.[25] On October 6, 1967, in Buena Vista Park, those remaining in the Haight staged a mock funeral, Digger happening, "The Death of the Hippie" ceremony.[28] News of the event was released by Ron Thelin on October 4, 1967, two days after the arrest of members of the Grateful Dead. Men shaved their beards and filled caskets to symbolize the dead hippie.[29]

Mary Kasper explained the message of the mock funeral as:

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.[30]

Ron Thelin stated that Haight-Ashbury was:

Portioned to us by the media-police, and the tourists came to the zoo to see the captive animals, and we growled fiercely behind the bars we accepted, and now we are no longer hippies and never were.[31]

Recent history

After 1968, the area went into decline due to hard drug use, and a lack of policing,[32][33] but was improved and renewed in the late 1970s.[34]

In the 1980s, the Haight became an epicenter for the San Francisco comedy scene when a small coffee house near Haight Street, in Cole Valley, called The Other Café, 100 Carl Street at Cole Street[35] (currently the restaurant Crepes on Cole) became a full-time comedy club that helped launch the careers of Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, and Whoopi Goldberg.[36]

Attractions and characteristics

The Tubes performing at 2012 Haight-Ashbury Street Fair

The Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is held on the second Sunday of June each year attracting thousands of people, during which Haight Street is closed between Stanyan and Masonic to vehicular traffic, with one sound stage at each end.[37]

See also


  1. ^ a b Spann, Edward K. (2003). Democracy's Children: The Young Rebels of the 1960s and the Power of Ideals. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 111. ISBN 9780842051415.
  2. ^ a b "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "California's 11th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  4. ^ a b "Haigh-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco, California (CA), 94117 subdivision profile". Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "SF Station: Districts - Upper Haight". Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  6. ^ McCleary, John Bassett (2004), The Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the 1960s and 1970s, Ten Speed Press, pp. 246–247, ISBN 1-58008-547-4, OCLC 237866881.
  7. ^ "Haight-Ashbury". San Francisco Travel. Retrieved 2017-08-17.o
  8. ^ "San Francisco Streets Named for Pioneers". Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
  9. ^ Loewenstein, Louis (1984). Streets of San Francisco: The Origins of Street & Place Names. San Francisco: Lexikos. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-938530-27-5.
  10. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 42 – The Acid Test: Defining 'hippy'" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Track 1.
  11. ^ "The Chutes – FoundSF". March 1998. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  12. ^ "Old 21 – Neighborhood – The Chutes". Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  13. ^ "Old 21 – Neighborhood – Haight Ashbury". Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  14. ^ Godfrey, Brian J. (1984). "Inner-City Revitalization and Cultural Succession: The Evolution of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District". Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. 46 (1): 79–91. doi:10.1353/pcg.1984.0004. ISSN 1551-3211. S2CID 145445809.
  15. ^ Adams, Gerald (2003-03-28). "Farewell to freeway: Decades of revolt force Fell Street off-ramp to fall". San Francisco Chronicle.
  16. ^ Rodriguez, Joseph (1999). City Against Suburb: The Culture Wars in an American Metropolis. Praeger. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-275-96406-1.
  17. ^ San Francisco Landmark Number 253
  18. ^ a b Ashbolt, Anthony (December 2007). "'Go Ask Alice': Remembering the Summer of Love Forty Years On" (PDF). Australasian Journal of American Studies. 26 (2): 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-13.
  19. ^ White, Dan (2009-01-09). "In San Francisco, Where Flower Power Still Blooms". The New York Times.
  20. ^ T. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee, (Oxford University Press, 1995), p.174
  21. ^ Tamony, Peter. "Tripping out in San Francisco". American Speech. 2nd ed. Vol. 56. N.p.: Duke UP, n.d. 98–103. JSTOR. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
  22. ^ Davis, Joshua Clark (2015). "The business of getting high: Head shops, countercultural capitalism, and the marijuana legalization movement". The Sixties. 8: 27–49. doi:10.1080/17541328.2015.1058480. hdl:11603/7422. S2CID 142795620.
  23. ^ Ashbolt, Anthony. "From Haight-Ashbury to Soulful Socialism: Culture and Politics in the Movement". Australasian Journal of American Studies. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. N.p.: Australia and New Zealand American Studies Association, n.d. 28–38. JSTOR. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
  24. ^ Miles, Barry (2004). Hippie. New York: Sterling. pp. 106–112.
  25. ^ a b Gail Dolgin; Vicente Franco (2007). American Experience: The Summer of Love. PBS. Archived from the original on 2017-03-25. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
  26. ^ "AV #88444 – Video Cassette – the Hippie Temptation". Archived from the original on 2006-03-19. Retrieved 2006-11-22.
  27. ^ "San Francisco: 10 Things to Do — 5. Haight-Ashbury – TIME". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  28. ^ "The Year of the Hippie: Timeline". Retrieved 2007-04-24..
  29. ^ "'Death of the Hippies': A Haight Street funeral for the Summer of Love". The San Francisco Chronicle. 2022-06-18.
  30. ^ "Transcript (for American Experience documentary on the Summer of Love)". PBS and WGBH. 2007-03-14.
  31. ^ "'Death of the Hippies': A Haight Street funeral for the Summer of Love". The San Francisco Chronicle. 2022-06-18.
  32. ^ Katherine Powell Cohen (2008). San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury. Arcadia Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 9780738559940.
  33. ^ "Calm has descended on Haight-Ashbury". The Milwaukee Journal. UPI. 17 December 1979. p. 4. But by winter, with drug pushers moving into the neighborhood in force, the Haight abruptly turned into a teenage slum of robbers, rapists, and speed freaks.
  34. ^ "Haight-Ashbury (district, San Francisco, California, United States)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  35. ^ "The Other Cafe | Home for the famous Haight-Ashbury comedy nightclub". Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  36. ^ "The Other Cafe Story". 2011. Retrieved Mar 30, 2013.
  37. ^ "Home". Haight Ashbury Street Fair. Retrieved August 31, 2019.

Further reading