San Francisco: 50 years of Summer of Love

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the city of San Francisco, California (United States), holds a string of festive and cultural events throughout the year. Pack the essentials in your suitcase: rose-colored glasses, casual attire, and your favorite travel guide. After all, “All you need is love”…

The Summer of Love, what is it?

The Summer of Love refers to the hippie counterculture phenomenon which took place during the summer of 1967 in Haight-ashbury, in the heights of San Francisco. It was in this mythical district that the hippie movement was born in the early 60s.

Yet, at the end of the 19th century, Haight-Ashbury had all of the middle-class neighborhood: well-to-do families appreciated its strategic location on the city's hills, near Golden Gate Park.

After World War II, rents fell and the upscale population gave way to the first hippies. They rent ten, twelve or more a house for less than $ 60 per month. The phenomenon is quickly publicized, and young people are flocking from everywhere.

In 1967, it was the apotheosis: Summer of Love attracted nearly 100 young people from all over the world, students, musicians, artists and outsiders. It is the time of non-conformism against a background of psychedelic rock. On the program, free food at Golden Gate Park, joints and LSD, free love and concerts galore with headliners Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas & the Papas…

But Haight-Ashbury is a victim of its own success. The lack of housing, drug problems and the rising crime rate are driving some residents away. Worse, the image of the movement tarnished and, in October 1967, a ceremony declared the end of the hippie movement.

Despite everything, this period of transformation remains forever associated with the utopia of a pacifist lifestyle, carefree, where anything is possible. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Summer of Love, San Francisco is launching major exhibitions and more than 200 cultural events this year around music, dance, art and photography.

Major events not to be missed

- The exhibition "The Summer of Love Experience" at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park is the high point of these commemorations. It offers a true immersion in the Summer of Love of 1967. Over 400 objects, including iconic posters, psychedelic art, videos, period photos, original clothing, as well as interactive music and light shows, retrace the entire movement. Until August 20.

- Another major exhibition, "Hippie modernism: the struggle for utopia" is interested in the evolution of art, architecture and design under the influence of the counterculture of the 60s and 70s. At the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, until May 21.

- And who says Summer of Love says Flower Power. The Asian Art Museum uses this famous hippie slogan to name its new exhibition around the history of flowers in Asian art. “Flower Power”, from June 23 to October 1.

- Like a shooting star, Janis Joplin brilliantly shone on the Haight-Ashbury music scene in 1967. Overnight, she became the queen of psychedelic rock. To pay homage to him, the Broadway musical "A night with Janis Joplin" (“A Night with Janis Joplin”) will be performed at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from June 7 to July 2. The opportunity to listen to his most famous songs, such as "Piece of my heart" and "Summertime".  

- This summer, San Francisco will also celebrate the anniversary of Monterey International Pop Music Festival, which marked the beginning of the Summer of Love. It will take place from June 16 to 18, exactly the same dates as the real festival, 50 years earlier.

- Finally, remember these two dates: April 29, hippie parades on stilts, food trucks and concerts will bring Telegraph Avenue to life. Then, on May 7, dance, world music and the creative arts will be in the spotlight during the 18th edition of the How Weird Street Fair festival. An event which, each year, revives the spirit of Summer of Love for a day.

Haight-Ashbury today

The circle seems to come full circle. As at the end of the 19th century, the district became residential again and the beautiful Victorian houses were once again occupied by families. Today, the mind-blowing concerts on the grass of Golden Gate Park have given way to remarkable museums, such as the Academy of Arts and Sciences and From Young Museum, temple of fine arts.

However, Haight-ashbury always remains animated. Record stores and a few musicians on the sidewalks recall the bohemian soul of the neighborhood. Coffee shops, affordable restaurants, clothing stores and “peace and love” trinkets flood the streets.

Better to move away from the touristy Haight Street to discover the district in depth. East of Haight-Ashbury, at 122 Lyon Street, stands the beautiful gray house of Janis Joplin. Celebrity collectors will also be able to walk past the house where lived Jimi Hendrix (142 Central Street) or that of Jefferson Airplane (130 Delmar Street).

Public chat Waller street, admire the superb array of Victorian houses with ornate facades. The ideal way to discover these little architectural gems is to get lost in the alleys of Haight-Ashbury, to the quiet and shady neighborhood of Cole Valley ...

Consult our San Francisco online guide

San Francisco Tourist Board

See also our report on Haight-Ashbury.

For more information about the event:

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