California Historical Society

City Visions: Why the Summer of Love Matters

Apr 3, 2017

  Fifty years ago this summer, 100,000 young people flooded San Francisco in what was called "The Summer of Love."  Guest host Grace Won revisits this era with those charged with commemorating it.  From psychedelic rock posters, to fringed leather jackets, to the music of local bands like the Grateful Dead, we will cover the art, music, and politics of the counterculture.

Why was San Francisco the epicenter of this countercultural movement?  What is its legacy?

Look at the San Francisco skyline and you’ll see the City by the Bay changing before your eyes. All the current construction is causing concern in some parts of town, but really, it’s nothing new. “San Francisco has always been re-making itself,” says Anthea Hartig, Executive Director of the California Historical Society (CHS). “It was never quite good enough.”

Photo courtesy of Lisa Hamilton.

If you’ve ridden on BART lately, you might have seen a photograph of a blue and white beach umbrella standing at the edge of a green farmer’s field. The caption reads, “Those are potatoes.” Or one with a girl in a cowboy hat standing upright in her horse’s saddle, swinging a lasso over her head. The caption: “She’s Also Pretty Good At Volleyball.” Or one with a boy wearing a green 4H tie, proudly holding a goat to his side. “Jesús and Lightning,”

The photos are visions of rural California, pasted on the walls one of the state’s most iconic urban structures.