Young hippies straddle the sidewalk as an elderly woman, a long-time resident of the Haight-Ashbury district, walks by in San Francisco, Calif., on April 25, 1967.
“The posters began to appear around the city just after New Year’s, 1967. ‘A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-in…Bring food to share, bring flowers, beads, costumes, feathers, cymbal flags.’ On Saturday, January 14, a crowd of young people began to form on the open fields of Golden Gate Park. Throughout the day, local bands — not yet famous — took turns on the stage: The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company. Poets Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder led Hindu chants to the bouncing rhythm of finger cymbals. Timothy Leary addressed the crowd, urging them for the first time ever to ‘turn on, tune in, and drop out.’ Owsley Stanley, the rogue chemist credited with manufacturing the period’s highest-quality LSD, donated 75 turkeys for sandwiches — the bread was sprinkled lightly with crushed White Lightning acid. At one point, a skydiver descended gently into the crowd, borne by a white parachute. The Human Be-In was perhaps the largest gathering of its time for people under the age of 25 — the crowd was estimated to be upwards of 20,000 — but by all accounts the day was peaceful, euphorically so. The Hells Angels, the notorious biker gang, entertained lost children until they were reunited with their mothers. … Until the Be-In, it hadn’t been exactly clear how much the privileged youth of America hungered for this kind of ‘something else,’ and how badly they wanted to accept the invitation to ‘hang your fear at the door and join the future,’ as one press release described the gathering. TIME, Look, and LIFE magazines hustled their youngest, hippest reporters to California. The February 6 issue of Newsweek ran an article called ‘Dropouts with a Mission’ (written by 24-year old Hendrik Hertzberg, who later became a staff writer for The New Yorker) that described the scene as ‘a love feast, a psychedelic picnic, a hippie happening’ whose participants promised to bring radical change to the nation ‘by means of a vague regimen of all-embracing love.’ … The neighborhood had been one of the city’s most ethnically and racially diverse, and proudly so, but by the mid- 1960s, after the city decided to build a freeway nearby, the neighborhood’s middle-class population had departed en masse, leaving property values to crumble. Suddenly, whole houses, their large rooms perfect for sharing with a friend or seven, could be rented dirt cheap. …”
Trip Without a Ticket – August, 1968