Before Techies, There Were Hippies: Haight-Ashbury In 1967

Published June 5, 2015
Updated August 7, 2019
haight ashbury 1967 intersection

The intersection of Haight and Ashbury, San Francisco in 1967. Source: Mashable

As American air raids wreaked havoc on Vietnamese soil in 1967, in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood it was the Summer of Love.

A series of natural and political events would transpire before Haight-Ashbury would become the epicenter of the “Free Love” mentality. It was one of the only areas spared from the fires sparked by the 1906 earthquakes, which meant that the neighborhood retained its charming Victorian architecture, if not its staunch sensibilities. Nevertheless, after the middle class left in the 1950s to relocate to the suburbs, Haight-Ashbury subsequently fell into disrepair.

A proposed freeway through the neighborhood in the 1950s led to a further decline in property values. Even though the freeway plans were cancelled, the damage had already been done–at least when viewed under a more conservative lens: low rents had attracted the beatniks, with the hippies soon to follow.

The hippie movement revolved around the exploration of alternative lifestyles and an overall rejection of societal rules. Engaging in Eastern Spiritualism, free love, and “mind expanding” drugs, the lifestyle soon drew the country’s disenchanted youth to the neighborhood, marked by the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.

haight ashbury 1967 guitar

Source: Mashable

Musicians such as The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane moved in, too, and record stores openly sold psychedelic drugs and marijuana right beside their LPs. Exotic stores filled the streets, representing a hodge podge of interests and identities: the unique counter-culture had found a thriving home.

As happens in life, though, love and happiness too had an expiration date in Haigh-Ashbury. With youth streaming in by the thousands (spurned by the continual media coverage) Haight-Ashbury soon found itself filled past capacity; this lead to widespread homelessness and drug-related health problems.

By October of 1967, the remaining residents held a highly-publicized mock funeral for “The Death of the Hippie.” Within two years–following several violent and tragic events such as the Manson murders and the killings at Kent State and The Altamont Music Festival–the hippie movement would largely fade away from the American consciousness.

Today, San Francisco has been overtaken by a culture of a different kind–start-up loving techies. While low rents and Jerry Garcia-quoting hippies have all but disappeared from San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury, we look back on a time when both were commonplace in the ‘hood:

haight ashbury 1967 topless
haight ashbury 1967 friends walking
haight ashbury 1967 barber
haight ashbury 1967 drogstore
Before Techies, There Were Hippies: Haight-Ashbury In 1967
View Gallery

Want more on hippies and San Francisco? Check out our galleries on life in a hippie commune as well as vintage San Francisco, as well as this short news clip on 1967 San Francisco:

Finally, check out some of the most incredible Woodstock photos that will transport you back to 1969, and read a brief history of hippies.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Kelly, Erin. "Before Techies, There Were Hippies: Haight-Ashbury In 1967.", June 5, 2015, Accessed April 22, 2024.