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Summer of Love

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Summer of Love
Part of the Counterculture of the 1960s and the hippie movement
Spencer Dryden, Marty Balin, and Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane performing at the Fantasy Fair, early June 1967
LocationHaight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Participants~100,000 (estimated)
  • A surge in 1960s counterculture in the United States
  • Inspiration for the Second Summer of Love in the United Kingdom in 1988

The Summer of Love was a major social phenomenon that occurred in San Francisco during the summer of 1967. As many as 100,000 people, mostly young people, hippies, beatniks, and 1960s counterculture figures, converged in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district and Golden Gate Park.[1][2] More broadly, the Summer of Love encompassed hippie culture, spiritual awakening, hallucinogenic drugs, anti-war sentiment, and free love throughout the West Coast of the United States, and as far away as New York City.[3][4] An episode of the PBS documentary series American Experience referred to the Summer of Love as "the largest migration of young people in the history of America".[5]

Hippies, sometimes called flower children, were an eclectic group. Many opposed the Vietnam War, were suspicious of government, and rejected consumerist values. In the United States, counterculture groups rejected suburbia and the American way and instead opted for a communal lifestyle. Some hippies were active in political organization, whereas others were passive and more concerned with art (music, painting, poetry in particular) or spiritual and meditative practices.[4] Many hippies took interest in ancient Indian religion, such as Hinduism and Buddhism.


Culture of San Francisco[edit]

Intersection of Haight Street and Ashbury Street, the upper Haight neighborhood, San Francisco, celebrated as the central location of the Summer of Love

Inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road[3] (1957) and the Beat Generation of authors of the 1950s, who had flourished in the North Beach area of San Francisco, those who gathered in Haight-Ashbury during 1967 allegedly rejected the conformist and materialist values of modern life and adhered to the psychedelic movement; there was an emphasis on sharing and community.[6] The Diggers established a Free Store, and Haight Ashbury Free Clinics was founded on June 7, 1967, where medical treatment was provided.[7]

Human Be-In and inspiration[edit]

The prelude to the Summer of Love was a celebration known as the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park on January 14, 1967,[8] which was produced and organized by artist Michael Bowen.[9][10][11]

It was at this event that Timothy Leary voiced his phrase, "turn on, tune in, drop out".[12] This phrase helped shape the entire hippie counterculture, as it voiced the key ideas of 1960s rebellion. These ideas included experimenting psychedelics, communal living, political decentralization, and dropping out of society. The term "dropping out" became popular among many high school and college students, many of whom would abandon their conventional education for a summer or more of hippie culture.

The event was announced by the Haight-Ashbury's hippie newspaper, the San Francisco Oracle:

A new concept of celebration beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.[13]

The gathering of approximately 30,000 at the Human Be-In helped publicize hippie fashions.[14]


The term "Summer of Love" originated with the formation of the Council for the Summer of Love during the spring of 1967 as a response to the convergence of young people on the Haight-Ashbury district. The council was composed of the Family Dog hippie commune, The Straight Theatre, The Diggers, The San Francisco Oracle, and approximately 25 other people, who sought to alleviate some of the problems anticipated from the influx of young people expected during the summer. The council also assisted the Free Clinic and organized housing, food, sanitation, music and arts, along with maintaining coordination with local churches and other social groups.[15] Psychedelic poster artist Bob Schnepf was commissioned by Chet Helms to create the official Summer of Love poster, which became a lasting icon of the era.[16]


Spring Mobilization against the War in Vietnam march, from Second and Market Street to Kezar Stadium, looking towards City Hall, on Fulton Street, in San Francisco, on April 15, 1967[17][18][19][20][21]

Youth arrivals[edit]

College students, high school students, and runaways began streaming into the Haight during the spring break of 1967. John F. Shelley the then-Mayor of San Francisco and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,[3] determined to stop the influx of young people once schools ended for the summer, unwittingly brought additional attention to the scene, and a series of articles in the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle alerted the national media to the hippies' growing numbers.[citation needed] By spring, some Haight-Ashbury organizations including Diggers theater and about 25 residents[22] responded by forming the Council of the Summer of Love, giving the event a name.[23][24]

"You only had to walk out your door to join the fun"—Mike Lafavore[25]


The media's coverage of hippie afflux in the Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America. Hunter S. Thompson termed the district "Hashbury" in The New York Times Magazine. On February 6, 1967, Newsweek printed a four-page four-color "Dropouts on a Mission".[26] On March 17, 1967, Time magazine printed an article "Love on Haight".[26] On June 6, 1967, Newsweek printed "The Hippies are Coming".[26] The activities in the area were reported almost daily.[27]

The event was also reported by the counterculture's own media, particularly the San Francisco Oracle, the pass-around readership of which is thought to have exceeded a half-million people that summer,[28] and the Berkeley Barb.

The media's reportage of the "counterculture" included other events in California, such as the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival in Marin County and the Monterey Pop Festival, both during June 1967. At Monterey, approximately 30,000 people gathered for the first day of the music festival, with the number increasing to 60,000 on the final day.[29] Additionally, media coverage of the Monterey Pop Festival facilitated the Summer of Love as large numbers of hippies traveled to California to hear favorite bands such as The Who, Grateful Dead, the Animals, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Otis Redding, The Byrds, and Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin.[30]

"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)"[edit]

Musician John Phillips of the band The Mamas & the Papas wrote the song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" for his friend Scott McKenzie. It served to promote both the Monterey Pop Festival that Phillips was helping to organize, and to popularize the flower children of San Francisco.[31] Released on May 13, 1967, the song was an instant success. By the week ending July 1, 1967, it reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, where it remained for four consecutive weeks.[32] Meanwhile, the song charted at number one in the United Kingdom and much of Europe. The single is purported to have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.[33]


New York City[edit]

In Manhattan, near the Greenwich Village neighborhood, during a concert in Tompkins Square Park on Memorial Day of 1967, some police officers asked for the music's volume to be reduced.[4] In response, some people in the crowd threw various objects, and 38 arrests ensued.[4] A debate about the "threat of the hippie" ensued between Mayor John Lindsay and Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary.[4] After this event, Allan Katzman, the editor of the East Village Other, predicted that 50,000 hippies would enter the area for the summer.[4][34]


Double in size of the Tompkins Square Park concert, as many as 100,000 young people from around the world flocked to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, as well as to nearby Berkeley and to other San Francisco Bay Area cities, to join in a popularized version of the hippie culture.[35] A Free Clinic was established for free medical treatment, and a Free Store gave away basic necessities without charge to anyone who needed them.[36][37][38][39]

The Summer of Love attracted a wide range of people of various ages: teenagers and college students drawn by their peers and the allure of joining an alleged cultural utopia; middle-class vacationers; and even partying military personnel from bases within driving distance. The Haight-Ashbury could not accommodate this influx of people, and the neighborhood scene quickly deteriorated, with overcrowding, homelessness, hunger, drug problems, and crime afflicting the neighborhood.[36]


Chet Helms, Barry Fey and others who were constructing The Family Dog Denver in the summer of 1967 also held a Human Be-In, in Denver's City Park, with the goal of harnessing the Summer of Love vibe to promote Helm's new Family Dog Productions venture, which opened in September, 1967. 5,000 people attended the Be-In, with performances by bands like the Grateful Dead, Odetta and Captain Beefheart. Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary were also reportedly in attendance. As Denver native Bruce Bond states in the 2021 documentary The Tale of the Dog,[40] "It's not like the Summer of Love ended in Frisco. It just moved east, to Denver."

Use of drugs[edit]

Psychedelic drug use became common. Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir commented:

Haight Ashbury was a ghetto of bohemians who wanted to do anything—and we did but I don't think it has happened since. Yes there was LSD. But Haight Ashbury was not about drugs. It was about exploration, finding new ways of expression, being aware of one's existence.[41]

After losing his untenured position as an instructor on the Psychology faculty at Harvard University, Timothy Leary became a major advocate for the recreational use of psychedelic drugs.[12] After starting taking psilocybin in the late fifties, a psychoactive chemical produced by certain mushrooms that causes effects similar to those of LSD, Leary endorsed the use of all psychedelics for personal development. He often invited friends as well as an occasional graduate student to consume such drugs along with him and colleague Richard Alpert.

On the West Coast, author Ken Kesey, a prior volunteer for a CIA-started LSD experiment in 1959, advocated the use of LSD.[12] Soon after participating, he was inspired to write the bestselling novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.[12] Subsequently, after buying an old school bus, painting it with psychedelic graffiti and attracting a group of similarly minded individuals he dubbed the Merry Pranksters, Kesey and his group traveled across the country, hosting "acid tests" where they would fill a large container with a diluted low dose form of the drug and give out diplomas to those who passed their test.[12]

Along with LSD, cannabis started to be much used during this period. However, new laws were subsequently enacted to control the use of both drugs. The users thereof often had sessions to oppose the laws, including The Human Be-In referenced above as well as various "smoke-ins" during July and August;[42] however, their efforts at repeal were unsuccessful.

Funeral and aftermath[edit]

Mock funeral notice

By the end of summer, many participants had left the scene to join the back-to-the-land movement of the late 1960s, to resume school studies, or simply to "get a job". Those remaining in the Haight wanted to commemorate the conclusion of the event. A mock funeral entitled "The Death of the Hippie" ceremony was staged on October 6, 1967, and organizer Mary Kasper explained the intended message:[23]

We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, to stay where you are, bring the revolution to where you live and don't come here because it's over and done with.[43]

In New York, the rock musical drama Hair, which told the story of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, began Off-Broadway on October 17, 1967.[44]


Second Summer of Love[edit]

The "Second Summer of Love" (a term which generally refers to the summers of both 1988 and 1989) was a renaissance of acid house music and rave parties in Britain.[45] The culture supported MDMA use and some LSD use. The art had a generally psychedelic emotion reminiscent of the 1960s.[46][47][48]

40th anniversary[edit]

During the summer of 2007, San Francisco celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love by holding numerous events around the region, culminating on September 2, 2007, when over 150,000 people attended the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love concert, held in Golden Gate Park in Speedway Meadows. It was produced by 2b1 Multimedia and the Council of Light.[49][50][51]

50th anniversary[edit]

Illumination of the Conservatory of Flowers on June 21, 2017

In 2016, 2b1 Multimedia and The Council of Light, once again, began the planning for the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. By the beginning of 2017, the council had gathered about 25 poster artists, about 10 of whom submitted their finished art, but it was never printed. The council was also contacted by many bands and musicians who wanted to be part of this historic event, all were waiting for the date to be determined before a final commitment.[52] New rules enforced by the San Francisco Parks and Recreational Department (PRD) prohibited the council from holding a free event of the proposed size. There were many events planned for San Francisco in 2017, many of which were 50th Anniversary-themed. However, there was no free concert. The PRD later hosted an event originally called “Summer Solstice Party,” but it was later renamed “50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love” two weeks before commencement. The event had fewer than 20,000 attendees from the local Bay Area.

In frustration, producer Boots Hughston put the proposal of what was by then to be a 52nd anniversary free concert into the form of an initiative intended for the November 6, 2018, ballot.[53][54] The issue did not make the ballot; however, a more generic Proposition E provides for directing hotel tax fees to a $32 million budget for "arts and cultural organizations and projects in the city."[55]

During the summer of 2017, San Francisco celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love by holding numerous events and art exhibitions.[56] In Liverpool, the city has staged a 50 Summers of Love festival based on the 50th anniversary of the June 1, 1967, release of the album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles.[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E. Vulliamy, "Love and Haight", Observer Music Monthly May 20, 2007
  2. ^ P. Braunstein, and M.Doyle (eds), Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and '70s, (New York, 2002), p. 7.
  3. ^ a b c
    • Selvin, Joel (1999). Summer of Love The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love, and High Times in the Wild West. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 9780815410195.
    • Selvin, Joel; Young, Malcolm C. (June 11, 2017). "The Summer of Love". The Forum at Grace Cathedral. Grace Cathedral, San Francisco – via vimeo.
    • Selvin, Joel; Young, Malcolm C. (June 11, 2017). "The Summer of Love". The Forum at Grace Cathedral. Grace Cathedral, San Francisco – via YouTube. With the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love sparking celebrations and events throughout San Francisco, we invite the New York Times best-selling author of Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Times in the Wild West and former San Francisco Chronicle senior pop music critic Joel Selvin to offer his insights into the lasting impact of the 1967 cultural revolution that was born in the Haight-Ashbury.
    • Gene Anthony (1980). The Summer of Love: Haight-Ashbury at Its Highest (PDF). John Libbey Eurotext. ISBN 0867194219. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hinckley, David (October 15, 1998). "Groovy The Summer Of Love, 1967". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  5. ^ Chapter 1 | Summer of Love | American Experience | PBS. Retrieved April 15, 2024 – via www.youtube.com.
  6. ^ "Counterculture". Smith.edu. Archived from the original on August 16, 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  7. ^ M. Isserman, and M. Kazin (eds), America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 151–172.
  8. ^ "What was the summer of love?". The Guardian. May 26, 2007. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Chronology of San Francisco Rock 1965–1969". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved November 1, 2008.
  10. ^ "Copy of Certificate of Honor presented to Michael Bowen". City and County of San Francisco. September 2, 2007. Retrieved November 1, 2008.
  11. ^ T.H. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee, (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 172.
  12. ^ a b c d e Weller, Sheila (July 2012). "Suddenly That Summer". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  13. ^ San Francisco Oracle, vol. 1, issue 5, p. 2.
  14. ^ T. Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, (New York, 1993), p. 215.
  15. ^ Chet Helms. "About this event..." Summer of Love. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  16. ^ "The secret messages of San Francisco's Summer of Love". The Week. July 21, 2017.
  17. ^ "Vietnam". SummerOf.Love. CHS. April 14, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  18. ^ Goldsmith, Julie (April 14, 2017). "Arrival of the Mobe". UC Berkeley Library Update. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  19. ^ "1967 Antiwar March". Found SF. Retrieved May 18, 2022. Anti-Vietnam war demonstrators fill Fulton Street in San Francisco on April 15, 1967. The five-mile march through the city would end with a peace rally at Kezar Stadium. In the background is San Francisco City Hall. (AP Photo)
  20. ^ "Vietnam War Protest March to Kezar Stadium". Bay Area Television Archive. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  21. ^ "Chronology of San Francisco Rock 1965–1969". sfmuseum.org. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  22. ^ Helms, Chet. "About this event..." SummerOfLove.org. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  23. ^ a b "The Year of the Hippie: Timeline". Pbs.org. Archived from the original on May 15, 2007. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
  24. ^ "#Onthisday In 1967, The Words "Summer Of Love" Were First Used In The San Francisco Chronicle". Summer of Love. California Historical Society. April 6, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  25. ^ Love, Robert. "A Look Back at the Summer of Love". AARP. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  26. ^ a b c Whiting, Sam (March 10, 2017). "Tracing the lineage of the phrase "Summer of Love"". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  27. ^ T. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee, (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 174.
  28. ^ "Summer of Love: Underground News". PBS American Experience companion website. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  29. ^ T. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee, (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 175.
  30. ^ T. Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, (New York, 1993), pp. 215–217.
  31. ^ Eddi Fiegel (2006). Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of 'Mama' Cass Elliot. Pan Books. pp. 225–226. ISBN 9780330487511. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  32. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 415.
  33. ^ Carson, Jim (August 5, 2011). "Did You You: "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" By Scott McKenzie". CBS Radio. Archived from the original on August 16, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  34. ^ Mark Jacobson Long Hot Summer of Love in New York, from New York magazine
  35. ^ "Allen Cohen: San Francisco Oracle, Human-Be-IN, History of the Haight-Ashbury". Archived from the original on March 1, 2003.
  36. ^ a b Gail Dolgin; Vicente Franco (2007). The Summer of Love. American Experience. PBS. Archived from the original on March 25, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
  37. ^ "Gelatin Silver Portraits from the Summer of Love in 1967". Flavorwire.com. May 27, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  38. ^ "Photographs of Hippie Culture in San Francisco by Elaine Mayes". Fubiz.net. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  39. ^ "The band performing at Fantasy Fair in early June 1967.... | Jefferson Airplane & friends | Jefferson airplane, Jefferson starship, Grace slick". Pinterest.com. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  40. ^ "The Mystery of the Family Dog, Denver's Most Storied Rock Venue". Westword. August 16, 2017.
  41. ^ J. McDonald quoted in E. Vulliamy, "Love and Haight", Observer Music Monthly, 20 May 2007
  42. ^ Harden, Mark (July 6, 1997). "Summer of Love Seminal '67 Event Back after 30 Years". Lexislexis.com. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  43. ^ "Transcript (for American Experience documentary on the Summer of Love)". PBS and WGBH. March 14, 2007.
  44. ^ Ron Bruguiere (2011). Collision: When Reality and Illusion Collide. AuthorHouse. p. 75. ISBN 9781456725242. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  45. ^ "Documentaries - The Second Summer of Love". Radio 2. BBC. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  46. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1998). Energy Flash. Picador. ISBN 0-330-35056-0.
  47. ^ Elledge, Jonn (January 11, 2005). "Stuck still". AK13. Retrieved June 13, 2006., "By the end of 1988, the second summer of love was over"
  48. ^ "History of Hard House". Archived from the original on May 16, 2006. Retrieved June 13, 2006."As the second "Summer of Love" arrived in 1989"
  49. ^ "Proclamation" (PDF). 2b1records.com. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  50. ^ Joel Selvin (September 2, 2007). "Summer of Love bands and fans jam in Golden Gate Park". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco: Hearst. ISSN 1932-8672. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  51. ^ "The Line Up for 2007". Summer of Love 50th Anniversary – 2017. Archived from the original on July 22, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  52. ^ "2b1 Multimedia Inc and the Council of Light Announce San Francisco's Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Concert". Businesswire.com. January 25, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  53. ^ "Summer of Love Producer is Heading to the Polls After Various Permit Denials". Ampthemag.com. January 12, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  54. ^ "Summer of Love concert promoter won't give up – seeks ballot measure". Sfchronicle.com. January 10, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  55. ^ "5 local ballot measures face San Francisco voters in November". Sfchronicle.com. August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  56. ^ "Experience The Summer of Love in San Francisco". Sftravel.com. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  57. ^ "50 Summers of Love". Culture Liverpool. 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]