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 Victorian properties for rent in the district and the bohemian subculture that subsequently flourished there.We wandered around, had a cup of coffee, went into some crazy little shops. Took a lot of pictures, and had a a couple of interesting encounters while doing so (one of the subjects thought (mistakenly!) that I was asking her out, and informed me very sweetly, pointing to the first floor of a shop, that her boyfriend was "up there"). Here are a few pics, then -- all taken with a 50/1.4, in available light, mostly at ISO 1600.
It gained a reputation as a center of illegal drug culture, especially with the use of marijuana. The area was thus sometimes known as The Hashbury, but, ca. 1967, its fame chiefly rested on the fact that it became the neighborhood of choice for a number of important psychedelic rock performers and groups of the mid-1960s. Acts like the Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, who all lived a short distance from the famous intersection, not only immortalized the scene in song, but knew many within the community as friends and family. Its mystique was further enhanced by the 1967 Scott MacKenzie hit "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)," written by The Mamas & the Papas member John Phillips.
Today the district has lost little of its status as a center of alternative lifestyles, though much has changed. The area still maintains a lot of its bohemian atmosphere, it has become a major tourist attraction and has experienced the effects of gentrification to some degree. Perhaps the best illustration of the district's slide into the mainstream is the presence of a Gap store, a major international retailer that (ironically) started in San Francisco in the late 60's, now fallen to mixed reviews by the city's trendy inhabitants. Though the Gap and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream are now located at the famous Haight-Ashbury intersection, the neighborhood remains a thriving center of independent local business. It is home to a number of independent restaurants and bars, as well as clothing, smoke, and record shops, including Amoeba Music: San Francisco's largest new and used record store, as well as shops catering to anything retro, nuevo, or strange. The cohabitation between throw-backs to the fifties lounge scene, organic and spiritual new age, the hardcore punk of the 70's and beyond is one of the neighborhood's most interesting and endearing aspects.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Spring Break started today, so we drove up to San Francisco via I-280. We had planned to go to Union Square, but stopped over at Haight-Ashbury on the way (were very lucky to find some parking, on a steep slope!) and never quite made it to the square. Wikipedia says: