Named for the intersection of Haight Street and Ashbury Street, this neighborhood is also referred to as The Haight and Upper Haight. Known as the birthplace of the hippie, it was dubbed the “Hashbury” by Hunter S. Thompson in The New York Times Magazine. Visiting here makes it almost possible to step back in time to the “Summer of Love.” Though most locals no longer don bell-bottoms, tie-dyed shirts, and love beads, these items are still for sale in some shops and are perfect souvenirs. Not yet gentrified, the area is a little rough around the edges–you’ll see some street people but you’ll also see the occasional young Love Child. As it was in its heyday, Haight Street is lined with an assortment of colorful boutiques, inexpensive restaurants, and cool coffeehouses. Wavy Gravy describes his neighborhood as “a coexistence between the punks and the hippies, a little cutting-edge U.N. in action.” Sort of.
Strolling along Haight Street is still like groovy, man. “Vintage” used clothing stores abound, as do unusual boutiques, galleries, and nightclubs. It is the place to get pierced and buy tie-dye.
Boundaries: Haight Street betw. Stanyan St. & Central Ave.
Getting here by public transportation: From Union Square area/Powell St., take the N-Judah streetcar outbound to Carl/Cole streets, which is 3 blocks from Haight Street.
Haight-Ashbury Victorian houses
Visiting the Haigh-Ashbury permits the chance to see some of the area’s many magnificent Victorian houses, including a few where psychedelic rock royalty lived back in the day.
in the neighborhood
●1524-A Haight St.
Known as the Jimi Hendrix Red House, he had an apartment in this Victorian for a few years in the 1960s. It got its name after it was painted red in Jim’s honor. It’s now a private residence located above a music shop. Murals on the exterior walls to commemorate this legendary musician.
●710 Ashbury St. (1 block south of Haight St.)
The Grateful Dead wrote some of their most famous music while living in this Victorian house. The 1967 “Seven Ten Ashbury” album cover was shot here on their front porch.
●558 Clayton St. (just north of Haight St.)
The Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic–the first free medical clinic in the U.S.–operated here for 52 years. Nicknamed “the hippie clinic,” it opened in 1967 during the Summer of Love. Janis Joplin was treated offsite for a heroin overdose, and Charles Manson once dropped in before he was infamous. Yours truly also visited here once, back in the heyday, for treatment of an ear infection.
●636 Cole St. (just south of Haight St.)
On a more somber note, this is where the notorious Manson “family” once lived.
●2400 Fulton St. (on north side of Golden Gate Park, 2 blocks from Stanyan St.), where the Jefferson Airplane lived in this Colonial Revival-style mansion with Doric columns.
●112 Page St. (at Gough St., near Van Ness Ave./Market St.), where Janis Joplin once lived with Country Joe McDonald in apartment 3.
●1090 Page St. (at Broderick St., near Divisadero St., in Lower Haight), where Big Brother & the Holding Company formed.
Haight-Ashbury annual event
Haight-Ashbury Street Fair
June; 2nd Sunday.
For this popular event, which attracts thousands of people, Haight Street is closed between Stanyan and Masonic and features hundreds of vendors plus a stage with live music at each end. Past performers have included Jefferson Starship, the Merl Saunders Band, and The Tubes.
Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour
Departs from the Haight. Fee. Reservations advised.
Tour the world-famous area that was hippie-central in the ‘60s. They promise that the “tour is approximately 60% hippy history and 40% general neighborhood history and architecture, but it is always 100% ‘far-out’ fun!” Lasts approximately 2½ hours.
Ben & Jerry’s
1480 Haight St.
Located on one of The Corners, the flavor of favor is Cherry Garcia, though Phish Food is also quite popular. The shop has a large variety of waffle cones and bowls on the menu, and that they allow you to mix as many flavors into your milkshake as you would like.
Love on Haight
1400 Haight St.
The motto here is “Whatever the question, Love is the answer,” and their mission is spreading “Rainbows & Sparkles.” The shop seems dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the Summer of Love. It has tie-dyed everything–even baby onesies–and is perfumed with incense. My husband didn’t want to go in, but once I convinced him, he really got into it, even trying on psychedelic prism glasses, and I had to drag him back out. A portion of profits are donated to Taking It to the Streets to help fix the ongoing issue of homelessness that plagues Haight Street.
1452 Haight St.
Located under “the legs” and filled with outrageous fashion, this shop hits a glam slam with lingerie, hosiery, jewelry, feather boas, satin gloves, wigs, fetish wear, and things undreamed of by most of us. A wall is decorated with $2 and $4 earrings galore, and it is hard to leave without buying some sequin-lined false eyelashes.
1466 Haight St.
Featuring a clean contemporary decor, this vegan fast-food spot features nine delicious veggie burgers. For instance the Avocado Beetroot Burger is prepared with hand-shredded beets and a crispy soy patty, while the Creamy Shrooms features a GMO-free soy patty smothered in sautéed mushroom sauce. Choose a side of seaweed fries or sizzlin’ broccoli. This is the first cog in the U.S. chain of a company based in Singapore.
The Red Victorian
1665 Haight St. 18 rooms. Some shared baths. No TVs. Afternoon popcorn, continental breakfast. No pets. No parking.
Operating within a 1904 Victorian and billing itself as a living museum, this B&B also aims to be a peace center, art gallery, and international meeting place. It calls itself a community, and operates like a commune. It has some permanent residents, some guest room rentals, and some hostel beds. The exotic, erotic Peacock Room features stained-glass windows, a fabric ceiling, a vase of peacock feathers, a canopied bed, and a mirror-lined bathtub tucked behind a beaded curtain. In the Aquarium Bath, live goldfish are housed in the toilet tank. The Peace Cafe and a meditation room on ground floor are communal areas for guests only. This place is like groovy, man.
San Francisco Mercantile
1698 Haight St.
This light-filled contemporary shop purveys state, city, and Haight Street souvenirs–most produced by locals.
Cantata Coffee Company
1708 Haight St., (415) 221-5555.
This teeny-tiny family-run coffeehouse serves espresso, chai, pastries, and gelato. Unusual coffees are named after vintage stars–the Audrey Hepburn has hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and caramel; the Frank Sinatra is mocha-blueberry. Note that boba tea is not their forte.
794 Haight St.
These donuts are the kind you remember from back in the ‘60s. It’s on my list to try the Bohemian krawler–a light chocolate cake donut infused with caramel and vanilla cream. Sandwiches are also available
1855 Haight St.
Located at the west end of Haight Street, where it meets Golden Gate Park, this massive independent music store is situated within a converted bowling alley and takes up half a city block. When it opened in 1997, it was the largest store in the country specializing in CDs and vinyl records. It continues to offer the largest selection of music—including vintage vinyl–in the Bay area, and is in fact the largest new and used record store in the U.S. The classical music section has special listening rooms, and sometimes live performances occur on a small stage. You’ll also find a good selection of Fillmore posters, both original and copies, plus t-shirts, books, and collectibles. The store buys, sells, and trades. Europeans and New Yorkers alike love visiting because it is unique. We had young musician visitors from Italy a few years ago and the first question out of their mouth was how could they get to Amoeba. Since we live in Berkeley, we took them to the original Amoeba on Telegraph Ave. (it opened in 1990) and dropped them off for the afternoon, and the next day they headed out to San Francisco to visit the more famous branch.
Cha Cha Cha
1801 Haight St.
Situated within a Victorian and featuring a decor of blackened brick walls ringed with funky altars and an atmosphere of happy Latin music, this festive tropical spot serves up delicious Caribbean fare in tapas-size portions meant for sharing. ??Diners sit in comfy half-moon booths sheltered by large potted plants. Menu winners include perfectly fried calamari, a fabulous house-specialty arroz con pollo with fried platanos, and superb fried new potatoes with chile aioli dip. One dish per diner plus a salad is just about right. A delicious sangria and ginger beer are good choices for drinks.
nearby: Cole Valley
This appealing neighborhood is just a few blocks from Haight Street and is where the N streetcar stops.
856 Cole St./Carl St.
Here since 1976, this very small shop is crammed with almost 300 kinds of cheese as well as made-to-order sandwiches, salads, pâtés, crackers, cheese spreads, and fresh cookies. It is located a hop, skip, and big jump from Golden Gate Park.
941 Cole St./Parnassus St.
Featuring a cozy ambiance, this small French Provençal-style bistro has tall ceilings, brick walls, and a heated garden patio for sunny-day dining. Breakfast offers vast choices–some common, some less so: Irish oatmeal brûlée; gingerbread pancakes with roasted pears; French Toast Tahiti stuffed with caramelized bananas and walnuts; scrambled egg dishes (Fontainblue mixes several kinds of mushrooms with spinach and fontina; Mexico mixes chorizo with peppers and white cheddar); poached egg specialties (the colorful Valence features roasted eggplant, goat cheese, and a spicy tomato sauce). Eggs are from free-range chickens, and milk is organic. Lunch brings on delicious sandwiches and salads. A citron presse and chocolat chaud are reminiscent of Paris, as is the restaurant in general, but the blend of cranberry juice, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and bubbly water that is the Zazie spritzer is most definitely the drink of choice. A selection of mimosas is also an option.
Should the wait to get in be ridiculous, many options are nearby: an Italian restaurant, a sushi bar, a crêperie, a burger shack, a coffee house, and a French bakery serving huge French-style cafes au lait.
Stanyan Park Hotel
750 Stanyan St./Waller St. 3 stories; 36 rooms. Some kitchens. Afternoon snack, continental breakfast. No pets. No parking. Located at the edge of Golden Gate Park, this 1904 Victorian mansion survived the great quake of ‘06. It has been renovated into a pleasant hotel with attractively decorated rooms.
(www.berkeleyandbeyond2.com; copyright Carole Terwilliger Meyers)