Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, US, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets. It is commonly called The 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 area is further subdivided into the Upper Haight and the Haight-Fillmore or Lower Haight districts; 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 street names themselves commemorate two early San Francisco leaders: Pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight, or, (though it is arguable) the tenth governor of California, Henrey Huntley Haight, the former's nephew, and Munroe Ashbury, one of the city's first politicians, who served as a member of the 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 district is famous 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 war workers coming back from the piers; 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.
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. The bohemian subculture that subsequently flourished there took root, and to a great extent, has remained to this day.
San Francisco and the Haight gained a reputation as the center of illegal drug culture and rock-and-roll lifestyles by the mid '60s, especially with the use of marijuana and LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. By 1967, the neighborhood's fame chiefly rested on the fact that it became the haven for a number of important psychedelic rock performers and groups of the time. Acts like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin all lived a short distance from the famous intersection. They not only immortalized the scene in song, but also knew many within the community as friends and family. Another well-known neighborhood presence was The Diggers, a local "community anarchist" group famous for its street theatre who also provided free food to residents every day.
By the "Summer of Love", psychedelic rock music was entering the mainstream, receiving more and more commercial radio airplay. The song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" became a hit single. 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 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" 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. Thousands of youth migrated to the Haight-Ashbury district, including many runaway teenagers, irrevocably altering the social structure of the neighborhood and the world's views of San Francisco as a city.
In response to this new population migrating to the Haight-Ashbury and a growing medical crisis caused by increased drug use and lack of health insurance, Dr. David E. Smith opened the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic on June 7, 1967, the first free clinic in the U.S. without a religious affiliation. His goal was to provide free medical care for everyone under the motto "Health care is a right, not a privilege". The clinic operated in the Haight-Ashbury District through 2007, then moved most of its operations to the Mission District of San Francisco and continues to provide medical care to those who would otherwise lack access to it.
Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is held on the second Sunday of June each year, during which Haight Street is closed down between Stanyan and Masonic, with one sound stage at each end. This is a rather crowded event due to heavy tourism.
The main commercial area's blend of diverse street life engulfs all types in the carnivalesque and liberal surroundings, just as it had in the 1960s. Recent police and community efforts help maintain park curfews and "no-camping policies", and steps are being taken to curb the constant influx of youths living on the streets. Both commercial and residential property in the area are in high demand today, a testament to the long history and many attractions of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and the city of San Francisco.
An area just inside Golden Gate Park directly west of Haight Street known as Hippie Hill is often considered part of the Haight-Ashbury. The hill is a grassy, southern-facing slope near the Haight entrance to the park, through a small tunnel beneath the Alvord Lake Bridge, and up the walking paths leading north. In dry weather, Hippie Hill is a popular destination for locals that offers a glimpse back at the Haight's hippie culture, frequently featuring a large drum circle, amateur performers of many types from jugglers to musicians, Frisbee enthusiasts, and picnickers, with occasional pot-smokers and acid-droppers as part of the mix.
Ross Mirkarimi, a member of the Green Party, is the current supervisor representing the district encompassing Haight-Ashbury in the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In Congress, the greater San Francisco Area including Haight-Ashbury is represented by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.
A SIMPLE TWIST OF HAIGHT; LOCATED IN SAN FRANCISCO'S FABLED HAIGHT-ASHBURY DISTRICT, VILLAINS MIXES LOOKS RANGING FROM URBAN TO SKATE-INSPIRED JEANSWEAR.
Mar 24, 2003; The winds of war are once again swirling on Haight Street. Countless flyers announcing yet another protest march flutter in the...