“If you’re going to San Francisco / Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Those lyrics echo the Haight-Ashbury of the late 60's and early 70's. This is the birthplace of the Summer of Love and the counterculture, and the home of the “flower children” of that era. In fact, Greyhound once ran bus tours of the district, dubbed “the hippie hop,” to give middle-aged Americans from the Midwest and the East Coast a peek at the alternative lifestyles of a new generation.
The district lies north of The Castro and south of Japantown, where Haight and Ashbury streets intersect. Haight Street in particular, between Central Avenue and Stanyan Street, remains as flavorful as ever, with its eye-catching public art, second-hand record, book and clothing stores, a liberal sprinkling of bars and coffee joints, and sidewalks populated with a colorful and steady stream of people, many of them as outlandlish in their attire as those at the height of the hippie era.
Japantown, north of Haight-Ashbury and the Western Addition, is the place for sushi, tempura and traditional Japanese dishes, as well as imported Japanese wares of sorts. Once a Japanese enclave, until ethnic Japanese were forcibly removed and interned during WWII, very few Japanese Americans actually live here now. Nevertheless, a proliferation of Japanese restaurants and karaoke bars, many of them in the Japan Center, and the landmark Kabuki movie theater off Fillmore, collectively continue to give the neighborhood a distinctive character.
North of Japantown and south of the Marina, and comprised of the steep east-west ridge that runs along Broadway, Pacific and Washington streets, Pacific Heights is the enclave of San Francisco’s rich and famous, its streets lined with lavish historic homes and mansions, many of them with grand views of the city and bay. Notable among the architectural splendors here are the Spreckels Mansion at 2080 Washington St., built in 1913, and the Flood Mansion at 2222 Broadway, dating from 1916. There are also several palatial homes along Broadway and Vallejo Street, most of them in the sections west of Steiner Street.
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