San Francisco Haight Street
Haight Street by: Katey Schoenberger
Hippie area made famous by the 1960's... now with incredible people watching. Great shopping, especially thrift stores & used
CD's/records. Good nightclub scene at night, primarily with hardcore live music and a pseudo-20's club (The Deluxe). Go to Haight
Street @ Ashbury where you'll find a Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor. The strip ends at Haight and Stanyan where you might see illicit drug dealing occurring,
as it does all over Haight Street at night. As J.L. puts it, "It's... a neighborhood with a beat unlike any other in this city..."
This is an interesting place to stop by, just to see it for maybe a couple of hours. You could also combine visiting Haight Streeet with
continuing west past the end of the street into Golden Gate Park. Skates on Haight also rents rollerblades you can use to enjoy the
park. Watch out (rollerblading) for the steep hill entering the park (near McDonalds). There are quite a few good breakfast restaurants here too -- very cheap.
Downside -- a relatively scummy area with a lot of panhandling and high-on teens... Reader P.Z. puts it best as, "Haight St. is full of panhandlers, and
it's quite scummy, but it's friendly nontheless."
Haight Street -- a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live in this very dirty place. Even steam cleaning nightly doesn't seem to
fix the grime... Panhandling is incessant, and more of the people than usual appear to be "homeless by choice" (Newt Gingrich aside). The Haight is
popular for teenage runaways and "squat" apartments of 5-10 teens or gen-x true slackers living in a small apartment. Drug dealing is opposed by a
neighborhood group but is now only more discrete. There are great ethnic restaurants on the street, and everything here is pretty cheap. There are also some
great art stores including a Frank Kozik rock art store. Many esoteric bookstores are fun to browse also. But the Haight is not for the faint of art, as you
are sure to be aggressively encouraged to contribute to the charity of others throughout your "trip". Needless to say, you will hear the Grateful
Dead frequently in this area.
A San Francisco local writes about the Haights improvement, "An update to your description of the Haight. I think it may be cleaned
up a bit since your last visit. Though you still see kids panhandling and can still buy pot easily, gone is some of the edginess there was even a few years ago.
Now instead of seeing 3 or 4 people sleeping in doorways on my way to work I see about 1 or 2 a week. This is due in part to the number of new shops that have
moved in to what were vacant stores. Unfortunately the recent rent increases caused us to lose a bakery, a dry cleaner and some other business that were convenient
for locals. However, these have been replaced by vintage clothing stores and shoe shops. In fact a recent headline in a local paper said "Haight street
achieves shoe nirvana" referring to the 20+ establishments where shoes can be purchased. So now the street is full most days with shoppers and tourists and
can be outright crowded on weekends. It's still a great place to people watch (out of town visitors often sit in my living room window to watch the people below).
Also beneath all of this, it is a neighborhood, my friends live there, I know the shopkeepers at the little stores I patronize, we keep an eye out for the area
and each other. Yeah, it's a little scruffy around the edges but certainly not "scummy" and I have never felt in danger at all. Have a great time on
your next trip here, it's a great city."
An S.F. reader writes with an opposing viewpoint, "I've got to take exception to SFTravel's comment that Haight Street isn't somewhere
that anyone would want to live. I've lived here for three years and hardly qualify as a genX slacker or drug-addled Dead Head nostalgia freak. The Haight is
surrounded by greenery (Buena Vista Park, Panhandle, GGP), has loads of good, cheap restaurants and
coffee shops, is right next to "upscale" Cole Valley (have you been to Eos yet???), and you can still get high quality smoke
at all hours of the night and day (though prices remain high... so to speak).
Better yet, since the Central Freeway closed down, getting Downtown is now a breeze. No more massive congestion on Oak and Fell! And even
Lower Haight and Hayes Valley are showing signs of life! No, I think you owe us an apology. The Haight is still one of the few places that hasn't been overrun by
yuppies and investment bankers, and where your chances of getting gunned down for no particular reason are much lower than in the
Mission or Portrero Hill." Some good points but -- stop by the Haight and see for yourself...
Amazing FREE Rock and Roll Tour of the Haight - Jimi, Janis, The Dead, Country Joe,
Jefferson Airplane and MUCH more...