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Love & Haight-Ashbury

Love & Haight-Ashbury

 

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood remains famous throughout the world for its role in the anti-war and counterculture movement of the 1960s, becoming the epicenter of 1968’s “Summer of Love.”  More than four decades later, American culture has changed drastically, and the Haight-Ashbury reflects those changes, the commercialization of the area slow but inexorable. But there’s still plenty of colorful history for visitors to find. A good place to start is the corner of Haight and Ashbury, the two streets whose names have become synonymous with not only a place, but also an era.

Munchies

The most famous of the area’s stores, Ben and Jerry’s on the corner of Haight and Ashbury is just down the street from the house where Jerry Garcia, the inspiration for their well-loved Cherry Garcia flavor of ice cream, lived with his Grateful Dead band-mates in the late 1960s.

 

Equally delicious but nutritionally more balanced fare can be found at Whole Foods Market, evidence of how the culinary value of organic, all-natural, and sustainable foods embraced by the ’60s generation has entered the mainstream of consumer tastes.

Groovy Threads

Everyone can travel back in time to the Summer of Love at Haight Ashbury Vintage, where you can find tie-dyed T-shirts and psychedelic outfits along with a hodgepodge of clothing from other decades: butterfly collars, country-and-western gear, mini dresses, and bowling shirts from every era since bowling began.

 

For those zeroed in on that mellow vibe, the best thing to do is to trip on down to Jammin On Haight, where you’ll find tie-dyed everything: tapestries, pants, belts, bikinis, and even dog sweaters! Original handcrafted jewelry and other fun stuff fill the store.

Needles and Pens

Once the province of bikers and outlaws, nowadays everybody and their mothers have tattoos, so where better to get one than at Mom’s Tattoo, which offers a tough-love approach to piercing the skin with needles and other foreign objects. Reflective of the change in trends, fashion, and social attitudes, tattoo parlors have become emblematic of San Francisco style.

 

Haight Ashbury Tattoo & Piercing can also provide some skin art along with piercing any available part of customers’ anatomy. While you’re waiting, you can browse the books, magazines, music, and videos available for purchase.

Get Blitzed

Harkening back to an even earlier era of the city by the bay, Hobson’s Choice is a Victorian style pub that would likely have been embraced by the counter-culture crowd, who were the original thrift-store hounds and nostalgic revelers. It’s a perfect place to raise a glass to bygone days and absent friends.

 

Magnolia Pub and Brewery is also a little anachronistic, effusing an old-world charm that stems largely from its location on the ground floor of a Victorian building. Home to award-winning bitters, the pub features a combination of warm food and cold beer that makes this often fog-shrouded corner a popular retreat.

Rock On

Although encountering some resistance when the independent chain first announced plans to locate in the site of the former Rock ‘N Bowl, Amoeba Music has become part of the flavor of the neighborhood and manages to compete with online retailers with its cavernous brick-and-mortar-housed inventory of music, video, T-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia. It’s a great resource for exploring the ’60s sound or any other part of music history, or for taking in one of the regularly scheduled live performances.

 

The understated sophistication of Club Deluxe is a throwback to yet another classic scene from San Francisco history, that of the smoky jazz clubs of the ’40s and ’50s. Happily, this club is smoke-free thanks to California’s ban on smoking in public venues, but there are comedy and burlesque nights in addition to cool jazz and hot pizza.

Keep On Truckin’

Upon reaching the end of Haight Street (what a long, strange trip it’s been), visitors are faced with Golden Gate Park, and, if still seeking the spirit of the Summer of Love, should proceed straight ahead to Hippy Hill, where the modern day equivalent of flower children still gather. 

 

—By J. Eric Miller
A long-time resident of San Francisco, J. Eric Miller continues to seek out the unusual, delicious, bargain-priced, and terrific things the city has to offer.


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