Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
Haight-Ashbury, a set on Flickr.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I have started doing photo walks of our beloved San Francisco. Our first stop was Bernal Heights. Next up was Haight-Ashbury, which we photographed in early November. Here are some of my shots from the neighborhood!
Some history and ‘must-see’ picks in The Haight [via SF Chronicle]:
“If there’s any area of San Francisco that evokes images of the long-gone ’60s hippie culture, the Haight is it. Fragments of that flower-power, incense-burning, acid-dropping, tie-dye-wearing, peace-and-love-vibing era can be purchased at smoke shops and Eastern-influenced outlets bearing names like Dreams of Kathmandu and The Love of Ganesha. But save for a few hippie relics, the Haight today is a whole new scene. Exclusive boutiques, high-end vintage-clothing shops, second-hand stores, Internet cafés and hip restaurants have all settled in, making the Haight one of San Francisco’s commercial centers.
Neo-punks, club kids, fashionites, tourists and neighborhood folks are equally at home here, whether they have come to get a new piercing, grab a burrito, find the latest drum ‘n’ bass 12-inch or just people-watch from a café. But there are two distinctly different areas of the Haight: The Upper Haight, which stretches from Stanyan to Masonic, is the more moneyed shopping zone, though it deteriorates a bit where it stretches toward Golden Gate Park. Meanwhile, the Lower Haight, roughly Divisidero to Webster, is a more diverse neighborhood with a grittier feel. While it has been an alternate nightlife hub for years, the Lower Haight has become a main draw among DJs and ravers with the proliferation of dance-music record shops and clubs.
BEST TIME TO GO
The Haight has a nice just-rolled-out-of-bed vibe during the day — perfect for lazing around in cafés and bookstores — but you’ll have to navigate through plenty of panhandlers and tourists. Weekends can get quite crowded with shoppers and brunch seekers during the day, and bar- and club-goers at night. A lot of homeless camp near the entrance to Golden Gate Park and hang out in the Upper Haight area, but if you walk by they’ll usually just ask for some change or a smile.
Getting there: There’s metered parking on Haight and nearby neighborhood parking, but actually finding a spot can be tough. Muni buses 7, 71 and 71L run the length of Haight from Market; Muni bus 6 comes from Market also, but turns on Parnassus. The 37 runs from Twin Peaks to the Haight, and the 33 goes along Stanyan in the Upper Haight. For more info on public transportation in this area, see the 511.org.
SIGHTS & CULTURE
Red Vic Movie House: A cozy movie house for rep, cult and premiere independent films at noninflated moviegoing prices. Sip some coffee or tea (drinks come in real mugs and glasses!), munch popcorn (with or without yeast) or other organic treats and sit snugly on one of the couches or theater seats.
Pick up a month-by-month calendar at the front window. 1727 Haight St., (415) 668-3994.
Corner of Haight & Ashbury: Back in the mid-1960s, this was perhaps the most famous intersection in the world, a place where young people came to from all over the world in search of love and peace. Some found it and some didn’t, but that was only one chapter in this neighborhood’s long and colorful history. Today it’s worth a visit just to see the beautiful Victorians that surround the area. And maybe to get a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream cone, if you like that sort of thing.
Buena Vista Park: Hike, jog, walk or just lean your back against a tree in these 36 acres of forested parkland with great views of surrounding Victorians and the city. Oak and pine trees stand next to eucalyptus and Monterey cypress, with trails winding throughout. It’s one of the city’s oldest parks, and you can still see some fragments of headstone inscriptions in the retaining walls, which were built with granite and marble partly salvaged from former San Francisco cemeteries.
The Grateful Dead house: In the mid-’60s, the Grateful Dead lived together (with many other transients) in this 1890 Cranston-Keenan building (that’s Cranston, as in former US Sen. Alan Cranston’s grandfather). 710 Ashbury St.
Haight Street Fair: In June, locals and tourists pack the Upper Haight for the Haight Street Fair, featuring local bands, food stalls from neighborhood restaurants and, of course, plenty of shopping.”