Haight-Ashbury & Buena Vista Park with Don McLaurin – 8 May 2017

It’s the jubilee year for the Summer of Love in San Francisco, a time of remembering. Jubilees are usually 50 year events which cast a long shadow through history.
The importance of this 50 year anniversary is found both in Judaism and Christianity. “In Jewish tradition, the year of jubilee was a time of joy, the year of remission or universal pardon. . . . during which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven. … The same concept forms the fundamental idea of the Christian Jubilee with the number 50 . . . the number of remission. Christian jubilees, particularly in the Latin Church , generally involved pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome.” Looking back 50 years for the Hippies of 1967 would be to 1917. They would have both “the poppies in Flanders fields” and “Where have all the flowers gone” to wrestle with – a huge challenge in a struggle for remission. Clean slates were hard to come by in the 20th Century and before. But the Hippies were not so much a looking-back-people preferring goals of a future world beyond war, a world of love and peace, longing and stretching for that Age of Aquarius. This is a rosy glow I know. There were downsides and slippery slopes as well or was it slickensides? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_(Christianity)

Ottorino Respighi in the second part his “Festa Romana”, Jubilee (Giubileo), portrays the joy of pilgrims as they arrive near their destination, a breathtaking view of shining domes of Rome from Mt. Mario. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Festivals_(Respighi)
Perhaps the hippie pilgrimages to San Francisco had some of these moments too seeing the skyline of the city, the enormous Bay of San Francisco or profile of the Golden Gate Bridge softened and mystical in the incoming fog.

16 San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair).m4a

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie. This sweet and memorable song captures the idealism of the beginnings of the Hippie experience sharing that moment with other pilgrims of this history seeking an El Dorado of the heart and mind. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_(Be_Sure_to_Wear_Flowers_in_Your_Hair) “McKensies’s version of the song has been called ’the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, including the Hippie, Anti-Vietnam War and Flower power movements.”

At the end of this hike-log there’s a Vimeo video of our walk-about-the-Haight.


Our starting point was the Park Branch Library, San Francisco Public Library, Branch No. 5, the oldest existing San Francisco Public Library building. It opened on October 29th, 1909 and its renovation was completed on February 26, 2011. https://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=2000083601

Katherine Powell Cohen writes in her book “San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury” 2008, “At the turn of the 20th Century , the Haight-Ashbury gained prominence as the gateway to Golden Gate Park. Six decades later, it anchored the worldwide cultural revolution that bloomed in the 1960s. Though synonymous with peace, love, and living outside the mainstream, its history goes back long before the Summer of Love.”

Don is a San Francisco City Guide http://www.sfcityguides.org/ and so comes prepared not only with a wealth of fascinating information but with some visual aids as well. Here he’s talking about an earlier incarnation of the neighborhood when there was the Chutes, an amusement area with attractions and a thrilling ride.
http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Chutes http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Chutes_at_Fulton_and_10th_Ave.,_1902-1907
He also told us how this area of San Francisco was called “the Great Sand Waste” (also the name of a current band) prior to the development of Golden Gate Park and many other “reclamation” projects.

“In 1870 California Governor Henry H. Haight’s decision to develop Golden Gate Park under the guidance of the San Francisco Park Commission spurred investors, builders and prospective home owners to build along the blocks between Divisidero and Masonic. The original purpose of the park was to feature a broad green swath from City Hall and the Civic Center to the ocean. But land was precious in those early days of expansion. A compromise was forged allowing for three, instead of five miles of parkland with a narrower, one-block wide strip for three-quarters of a mile at the eastern end. . . . The narrow strip was dubbed Panhandle Park and was used as entry to the wider, more expansive Golden Gate Park. The Panhandle was no ordinary grassy open space. It became an outdoor arboretum with living exhibits from more than a dozen countries of every continent. . . . Today the eucalyptus trees in the Panhandle, originally from Australia, are among the oldest trees in all of Golden Gate Park.” http://www.michaelhelquist.com/san-francisco-history.html Mr. Helquist describes himself as an author, historian and activist. His fine website includes a “Politics and Passions Blog” and articles on San Francisco and Oregon history.

Don was telling us about the unique plantings in the Panhandle both at its inception and later when it became the botanical experimental garden for John McLaren who with William Hammond Hall developed Golden Gate Park. “The Panhandle is actually the oldest of the parks; at one time it was John McLaren’s arboretum. Every bush, every tree, even the Eucalyptus (now politically incorrect non-native species) were first planted in the Panhandle to see how they survived. Thus the Panhandle has the oldest trees in Golden Gate Park and 21 species of Eucalyptus.”
http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Panhandle http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Panhandle
https://fromthethicket.com/2010/09/16/trees-of-the-panhandle/ Following the trail of Elizabeth McClintock as she identified and described the Panhandle’s historic trees in 1973. McClintock was a herbarium botanist at UCLA from 1941 – 1947. She was the curator of the Department of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences from 1949 until her retirement in 1977. “She added many tree specimens from Golden Gate Park to the herbaria after noticing they were not well documented.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_McClintock

St. Ignatius Church looks over the proceedings in the Panhandle. After a series of moves in downtown San Francisco, this St. Ignatius Church building was dedicated in 1914 and continues to be the chapel for the University of San Francisco. It is a “mix of Italian Renaissance and Baroque elements and its floorpan follows that of ancient Roman basilicas.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Ignatius_Church_(San_Francisco)

We joined this person who remained in deep meditation as Don was describing a historic concert here on New Year’s Day 1967 by the Grateful Dead. They had given earlier concerts here on October 6 and 16, 1966. (In Marin they gave one at Rancho Olompali, Novato, CA on 5/22/66.) Their New Year’s Concert here was followed by their “Human Be-In Concert” on 1/14/67 at the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lvH6gZH3j8 Here are the lyrics to their song “The Golden Road”:
As a fascinating aside, Oliver Sacks talks about “The Grateful Dead & The Power of Music” with a severely brain damaged patient.
Amazingly after we got up to leave 10 minutes later, our “host” remained in this quiet, quite wonderfully relaxed position. It was a moment that we might have had at our hike at the Zen Center in Green Gulch Farm two weeks ago.

This plaque dedicated to Susan J. Bierman on September 5, 2001 honors her as “a true champion, who brought the neighborhoods together in an eight-year struggle to preserve the Panhandle victory and what the nation called San Francisco’s ‘Freeway Revolt’ when, BY ONE VOTE, the Board of Supervisors rejected plans to pave a freeway through this wooded concourse to Golden Gate Park.” http://www.fogcityjournal.com/news_in_brief/sue_bierman_memorial_060905.shtml

Don pointed out the new Nate Thurmond Basketball courts further down in (Golden Gate) Panhandle Park, it’s not just the trees.

Some Panhandle ambience and atmosphere:

Peace symbols are across Page street while Don gives us some neighborhood detail. http://www2.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=183468
Enjoying the houses of the Haight provides an intriguing and memorable experience – so many beautifully painted and with the gingerbread given wings to soar.

As we walk down the sidewalk, we see some students on their way back to school. Urban School is a private high school founded in 1966. http://www.urbanschool.org/page.cfm?p=2 http://www.urbanschool.org/page.cfm?p=32

Don asked his friend Chip, another City Guide, to share some details about his Victorian home kitty-corner across the street. Known as “The Hippie House” it was one of the locations for Harry Reasoner’s quite famous or better infamous film, “The Hippie Temptation” which has the look and feel of a “60 Minutes” episode. Clearly, the film was a collision of two cultures with the 50s in a “call the tow trucks tangle” with the 60s – in the Haight. https://vimeo.com/31005421

In addition to the beautiful detailing of his house and home, Chip had the most attractive side walk flower gardens that we saw on the walk and his house was a match.

Don has been tracing down where Janis Joplin lived or stayed in the Haight focusing on this area, one of these houses is “likely”. “At the height of her musical career, Janis Joplin was known as ’The Queen of Psychedelic Soul’. Her performances were described as electric.”

We passed St. Agnes Church with its banner in front “Immigrants and Refugees, Welcome” – a sanctuary church in a sanctuary city.


As we passed this house, Don asked us, “Who lived here?”

Built in 1900, the Magnin house this was (is?) their family home along with some adjoining houses for family and workers. After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Don mentioned that the Magnins sold some things at this address during the rebuilding of their store near Union Square which wasn’t reopened until 1912. “In the early 1870s, Dutch-born Mary Ann Magnin and her husband Issac Magnin left England and settled in San Francisco. Mary Ann opened a shop in 1876 selling lotions and high-end clothing for infants. Later, she expanded into bridal wear. As her business grew, her exclusive clientele relied on her for the newest fashions from Paris.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I._Magnin http://www.sfgate.com/living/article/I-Magnin-resurrected-in-glossy-book-118-year-2482261.php This is full of rich detail about I. Magnin history, lots of sweet memories.


Don mentioned that one contractor built this entire procession of Victorians. Ok, I forgot the builder but you have won instead: http://www.friendsof1800.org/VIEWPOINT/haight.html – This is a superb albeit longer link about the architecture and social structure of the Haight with lovely detail and historical photos. There’s even a part 2!

Inge & Don and Barb & Scott live next to each other in the Haight so that they can take care of each other’s cat when they go on vacation. The cats know and give this arrangement their imprimatur. How convenient for us too, we could come by here for a rest stop and have a go at the ‘loo’.

The last part of our hike was at Buena Vista Park just up the street. From Wikipedia, “The park is on a steep hill that peaks at 575 feet (175 m), and covers 37 acres.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buena_Vista_Park https://rootsrated.com/san-francisco-ca/hiking/buena-vista-park-hiking

Neat panorama of some our hike area looking over our ports of call – have we sailed in a new direction? Is this Umbria?

And, of course, it’s time to appreciate a magical four-footed addition our walk.

And at no extra cost, Don adds a shining geologic phenomenon for the end of our hike. The name is Slickenside and I remember it by recalling our children enjoying a Wham-o product when they were growing up called Slip ’N Slide. https://www.thoughtco.com/gallery-of-slickensides-4122857 Our Slickenside is
# 11 on this list, Slickenslide in Chert (sounds like a song yet to be written). Here’s a clear explanation along with some kid context by the remarkable San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Carl Note. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nativeson/article/Peixotto-Playground-hidden-in-plain-sight-5801306.php#photo-6954098
http://www.sfchronicle.com/author/carl-nolte/ Pat and I arrived in California in 1962 and Carl Nolte has been with the SF Chronicle since 1961!

Thanks to Jeannie for these photos.

Our final “number” is from the “Rock Band Slickenside”.

Thanks to Inge for this parting shot.

And many thanks to Don whose hikes around the City continue to intrigue and delight. Can’t wait for the next one.

As one of our venerable hikers said, “Don is fascinating, I could listen to him all day long!”

The VIMEO VIDEO of our walk-about has “The Age of Aquarius” backgrounding or maybe it’s the other way round.
This classic by James Rado and Gerome Ragni was written for the 1967 musical HAIR. This performance is by The Fifth Dimension which had its start in the 1960s.

San Francisco – Haight-Ashbury & Upper Market

P.S. – This Monday (tomorrow!) we’re with Jim Coleman meeting at Abbot’s Lagoon, turn right at the ‘Y’ onto the Pierce Point Road.

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