Hippie family living in a painted bus. Date unspecified.Wikimedia Commons
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A young hippie sits cross-legged in a New York City park. 1969.Lambert/Getty Images
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Hippies passing a joint at a commune. Date unspecified.Wikimedia Commons
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Music fans gather in Hyde Park to see the Rolling Stones in concert. 1969.J. Marmaras/Keystone/Getty Images
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A Hells Angel relaxes on the scaffolding during the Isle of Wight music festival. 1970. Keystone/Getty Images
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Hippies relaxing on the beach. Date unspecified.David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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A female dancer, decorated in fluorescent body paint and with feathers in her hair, attends an event at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom. 1967.Ted Streshinsky/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
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Hippies gathered around a large tree at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Date unspecified.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of The Grateful Dead. Date unspecified.David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Concert-goers lend a helping hand to push a stalled VW microbus at the Ozark Music Festival in Sedalia, Missouri. 1974. Nowheat/Wikimedia Commons
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Woodstock. 1969.Wikimedia Commons
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An anti-war demonstrator at the University of California, Berkeley throws a tear gas canister at police. 1970.Bettmann/Getty Images
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A hippie couple looks out to sea along the beachfront. California. 1967. Lynn Pelham/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
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Young people on their way to Woodstock. 1969.Ralph Ackerman/Getty Images
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Woodstock attendees hug each other. 1969.Ralph Ackerman/Getty Images
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Woodstock attendees sit at their camp site on the festival grounds. 1969.Ralph Ackerman/Getty Images
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Hippie couple stands together at Woodstock. 1969.John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Two hippies attending Woodstock talk to each other. 1969.Wikimedia Commons
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View of life inside "Drop City," an experimental, countercultural community based around cheaply constructed geodesic dome structures. Trinidad, Colorado. 1967. Carl Iwasaki/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
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A gathering of hippies at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice. Date unspecified.In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images
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American political and social activists Abbie Hoffman and Anita Kushner sit cross-legged on either side of Linn House (center), a "Boo-Hoo" leader of the Neo-American Church, devoted to the use of psychedelic drugs. He performed their wedding ceremony in Central Park, New York. 1967. Burton Berinsky/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
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A nude woman stands before a crowd at a concert in London's Hyde Park. 1970.Getty Images
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A female demonstrator offers a flower to a military policeman during an anti-war protest at the Pentagon. 1967.Wikimedia Commons
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A Washington, D.C. policeman arrests a demonstrator during a protest against the Vietnam War. 1971.AFP/Getty Images
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James Edward Baker, known as Father Yod, was the leader of Los Angeles' Source Family commune. Date unspecified.Isis Aquarian Archives
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Members of the Source Family form a human chain. Date unspecified.Isis Aquarian Archives
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Ecstatic fans give in to the music at the Isle of Wight festival. 1969. Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Hippies dancing at East Afton Farm, near Freshwater, during the Isle of Wight festival. 1970.Keystone/Getty Images
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Attendees of the Isle of Wight festival. 1970.Wikimedia Commons
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A group of dancing hippies. Location unspecified. Circa 1970. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
39 Vintage Hippie Photos That Capture Flower Power In Full Bloom
At the beginning of the 1960s, few predicted that a massive youth culture revolution was about to occur.
In the 1950s, one of the very few major countercultural forces in America was the beatniks, a group of jazz and poetry-loving anti-establishment outcasts. They were marginalized to the corners of society, and largely ignored by mainstream culture, except when they were being blamed for bringing drugs into whatever community they touched.
However, the relatively small beatnik movement soon spawned the cultural tidal wave that was the hippies. A loose confederation of young people who loved folk and rock music, experimented with mind-altering drugs, opposed the war in Vietnam, and shunned mainstream capitalism, the hippies advocated for big concepts like "peace" and "love" — and defined 1960s culture in the process.
Many of these hippies left their suburban communities to conglomerate with like-minded people in hotbeds of bohemian culture like New York's West Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods. They then joined together to build communities built upon free artistic expression, myriad spiritual traditions from around the world, and many other modes of living not in line with mainstream American values.
Communities like these sometimes came together in even larger gatherings, events that helped define a generation, including landmark music festivals like Monterey Pop, Altamont, and Woodstock.
At festivals like these, iconic artists such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead made history and left their mark on pop culture in ways that are still relevant today.
Meanwhile, older authors like Ken Kesey and Aldous Huxley, who experimented with psychedelic drugs and wrote radically anti-authoritarian works, gained a wider audience through their adoption by the hippie community, and now have their novels taught regularly in high schools across the country.
Beyond the arts, hippies informed and fueled some of the most influential political movements of their era, including the anti-Vietnam War movement, the anti-nuclear proliferation movement, and the feminist movement. Hippies' largely progressive attitudes on race, gender, the environment, sexuality, and war still reverberate in American political discourse.
Thus the hippie generation not only defined an era but also carved out a space for counterculture in the American landscape that remains in place to this day.
See some of the most fascinating hippie photos in the gallery above.