The birthplace of America’s counter-culture, San Francisco was the place to be for the youth of the 1960s. A generation of young people looking for peace and love made the pilgrimage to Haight – Ashbury,a psychedelic neighborhood, and Golden Gate Park to rally against the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War with psychedelic sounds as their theme music. All of these aspects, the music, the people, and the places, combined to create the pulse of the 60’s in San Francisco.
“Hippies,” the hip and free people of the 60’s filled the streets of San Francisco. They joined together and listened to psychedelic music, embraced their sexuality and experimented with drugs to alter their state of consciousness. Musicians like Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and The Grateful Dead not only came from the area but were a part of its new sub-culture as well. Everyone was kind and helpful to one another assisting in providing medical care and food to those who needed. It was a revolution for those who believed in free love and against the consumerist values and wartime direction the country was in.
Haight-Ashbury wasn’t just the center of San Francisco in the 60’s…it was home. As a central point of the counterculture movement in the 60’s, Haight Ashbury became the place where the hundreds of thousands came and stayed. The area of the Golden Gate park that adjoined to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was filled with free food and assistance so it became a natural place for people to stay.
Not far off their front step was where the real rockin’ action happened. Legendary venues like The Fillmore, Avalon Ballroom and the Winterland Ballroom, the places to see the psychedelic rock stars live, were all located in the heart of San Francisco! Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Doobie Brothers and more were regulars on the stages of these iconic spots. Golden Gate Park became a refuge and gathering place for all the youth migrating to the bay area. Hippie Hill was used for protests, free concerts or just a place to hang out and meet new people.
The Human Be-In in January of ‘67 is said to a glimpse into Summer of Love. In the Golden Gate Park about 20,000 people including members of local rock bands (ie Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company etc.) took LSD to counteract the new California law banning the drug. Psychedelic was the theme of life. Whether it was music or art, San Francisco locals had a means to provide you with some sort of experience. Concert posters were developed to match this new style and it quickly spread through the country and into our culture. The fashion of the “hippies” and “flower children” gracing the streets became synonymous with not only the area and counterculture movement but with the decade in its entirety.
San Francisco, wasn’t only a gathering place for the hippies and flower children, it was the life they lived and the music they listened to. Without the psychedelic sound and movement rock ‘n’ roll and American culture would not have been the same.
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