Today Haight Ashbury is mostly known as an epicenter of the youth rebellion of the 1960s. However, its history goes back to almost a century prior to that era. Initially, this neighborhood was slow to develop as it was part of the “Outside Lands” (an area past Divisadero Street which served as a western border of the city in the 1850s). The interest in this area developed in 1870s when work started on Golden Gate Park. The park had originally been planned to start at Divisadero Street but squatters and ensuing legal battles forced the city to compromise in return for a clear title to its other holdings. As Golden Gate Park became a popular weekend destination the west end of Haight-Ashbury developed into a resort area.
The 1906 earthquake and fire spared this neighborhood and its prosperity continued into the 1920s although by then the novelty of the area faded for the elite and it became a solidly middle-class district. The 1930s proved to be a trying time for Haight-Ashbury not only because of the Great Depression but also due to the development of the Twin Peaks and Sunset public transit tunnels. These factors, combined with the mobility of the automobile, led to a migration out of the neighborhood. After World War II things changed again when African Americans became more of a presence in the district.
By the mid-1960s, Haight-Ashbury, with its now cheap rents, college students from nearby University of San Francisco and San Francisco State as well as castoff Beats from North Beach, became a ground zero for hippies. The era peaked in 1967 with the famous Summer of Love. Rock bands such as the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company gave free concerts in Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle.
Unfortunately, things deteriorated rather quickly with onslaught of harder drugs and violence. By the early 1970s about a third of Haight’s Street shops were abandoned and boarded up. Starting from the mid-1970s, however, escalating real estate prices led to a renaissance that still continues.
There are two distinctly different areas of this neighborhood. The Upper Haight, which stretches from Stanyan to Masonic Street, and is a trendy shopping zone for the most part, though it deteriorates a bit where it stretches toward Golden Gate Park. Meanwhile, the Lower Haight, roughly Divisadero to Webster Street, 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.
Haight Ashbury is distinct from its posh neighbor, Buena Vista – Ashbury Heights. This quiet residential neighborhood surrounds the famous Buena Vista Park, the oldest officially designated park in the city (est. in 1867 and originally named the Hill Park) offering spectacular views from its upper slopes. Many of San Francisco’s most elegant mansions are located here. Ashbury Heights has a mini-park called Mt. Olympus at its summit.
Another noteworthy neighbor is Corona Heights, an affluent neighborhood surrounding Corona Heights hill and park (which offers panoramic views of the city and the bay, houses the Randall Museum and features a fenced-in dog park). Corona Heights stretches between Buena Vista Park and Eureka Valley / Castro. In 1899, excavation began on the hill to make way for Gray Brother Quarry and brick factory. The streets within this neighborhood were literally cut out of the rock for transport vehicle access and from the general quarrying done in the area. Due to the elevation of the hill, many of the neighborhood homes have views. This, combined with Corona Heights’ proximity to the public transportation, local restaurants and neighborhood hangouts (with Castro being nearby) as well as a large, open space Corona Heights park, make this neighborhood one of the prime real estate locations.
Haight Ashbury has an average Walk score of 90 and Transit score of 83, Buena Vista – Ashbury Heights neighborhood - an average Walk score of 82 and Transit score of 92, Corona Heights - an average Walk score of 88 and Transit score of 92.
The below link provides further details on Haight Ashbury neighborhood and its attractions: http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/haight/
The content displayed above was partially derived from a book by Rand Richards “Historic Walks in San Francisco. 18 Trails Through the City’s Past” as well as