Named after the intersection of San Francisco’s Haight Street and Ashbury Street, the Haight-Ashbury district is also known as The Upper Haight or simply as The Haight. Because of its close proximity to Golden Gate Park, the Haight-Ashbury district had been a middle class residential area ever since the Haight cable car line connected it to the Market Street cable car line and the rest of downtown San Francisco. But the character of Haight-Ashbury changed radically during the 1960’s hippie movement, especially during the famous Summer of Love in 1967. Classic rock and roll groups such as The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane popularized the hippie subculture along with Janis Joplin and Scott McKenzie’s 1967 hit song “San Francisco”. Janis and many members of The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead all lived near the intersection of Haight and Ashbury so members of the community knew them as friends and family.
After Hunter Thompson called the district "Hashbury" in his New York Times Magazine article, the media published news reports about Haight-Ashbury almost every day and young people from all over America were attracted by its low-cost quaint apartments that could be easily rented. A relatively large area surrounding the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets became known as a free zone where marijuana and LSD were sold at the Psychedelic Shop, people lived alternate life styles and practiced peace, love and understanding. When the need for medical assistance increased, Dr. David E. Smith opened the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic in 1967 where patients were treated free of charge. In 2015 the clinic served more than 34,000 people who live in northern California.
After the hippie movement declined, the Haight-Ashbury district also declined because of an influx of hard drugs, but along with many other San Francisco neighborhoods it was improved during the 1970’s and 1980’s. During the 1980’s, The Other Café brought new fame to Haight-Ashbury when the comedy club helped to popularize Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Dana Carvey and many other comedians.
Visitors may be interested to know about the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair, which is held annually on the second Sunday of June. Because many thousands of people attend the fair, Haight Street is closed to vehicular traffic between Stanyan Street and Masonic Street and there’s a sound stage at both ends of Haight Street where bands and artists perform. The quintessentially picturesque Haight-Ashbury bed & breakfast hotel at 1665 Haight Street is named The Red Victorian. Constructed in 1904 and most recently renovated in 2014, it houses a mixture of long term residents, monthly residents and short term guests.