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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Haight Ashbury Walking Tour

The cross streets of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco are known as Haight Ashbury. If you like rock and roll music, you probably are familiar with music that grew out of this area. This rock and roll music movement began in 1965 with a group called the Charleton's and ended in 1969 after a concert, known as the Altamont Raceway concert (featuring the Rolling Stones), which resulted in a person being stabbed to death and several drug overdoses.

Here are some of the highlights from our walking tour.

Haight Ashbury is known for giving rise to the hippie movement. According to our tour guide, the name Hippie came from the San Francisco Chronicle who first called them Hipsters; former Beatniks who shunned technology. Later the term was shortened to the word Hippie.

When a photo of this new music scene and culture featured some kids in tie-dye shirts appeared in Time Life magazine, a flood of young people started flowing to San Francisco and bringing with them what they saw as the new youth uniform; tie-dye shirts and flower power. In the summer of 1967, over 100,000 young people from all over the country flocked to Haight Ashbury to be part of this new cultural revolution. Haight Ashbury is only 8 blocks big so there were LOTS of people crammed in small spaces.

Later, in 1969 many left seeking not only more space(and probably cleaner and less smelly living quarters).

Today the Haight Ashbury area is a reminder to that hippie era of the 60's. The stores are vibrantly colored and reminiscent of an era that promoted peace and love along with psychedelic art. There is a large music store in the neighborhood that sells used and hard-to-find music (Amoeba Records) and there are also plenty of places where you can get a tattoo or a piercing.

There are eclectic stores with lots of stuff you would probably never find anywhere else. There are also lots of places to buy tie dye shirts and peace signs.

Old Victorian homes are throughout this neighborhood and most of them have been updated and remodeled. During the 60's, most of the homes were run down and this area was considered a poor neighborhood. Things have changed since that time.

This area also is famous for many of the musical greats living here, such as Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Neil Young (from Crosby Stills Nash & Young), and Janis Joplin, to name a few.

This photo is the place where Jerry Garcia used to live.

And this is where Janis Joplin used to live.

If you come to San Francisco, you may want to include this little 8 block tour in your list of places to visit. The recommended dining experience here is a Jamaican place called Cha Cha's, known for its sangria, entertaining decor, and Caribbean dish varieties.