Claire Fenerty

As locals well versed in the vibrant history of our city, my friends and I could not wait to experience the Summer of Love exhibition at the San Francisco de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. If you just asked yourself, “what’s the Summer of Love?” I’ve got you covered.

The Summer of Love was an expansive cultural phenomenon that swept across the United States in the summer of 1967. People gathered in cities across America, basically, to have a really really good time. The Summer of Love became famous for popularizing things like taking drugs (often of a psychedelic persuasion), going to concerts for artists like Jefferson Airplane or The Grateful Dead, and forging a lasting cultural movement. Summer of Love ‘67 kindled the spark that grew into the nonviolence movement that ended the Vietnam War in 1975. It was also the epitome of that eclectic 1960’s vibe that we only see nowadays in Halloween costume brochures. Brown suede, long fringe, round holographic sunglasses, and flared jeans were all the rage. This movement must have been pretty powerful if it could persuade people to walk out of the house in rainbow-crochet dresses and denim jackets covered in lapel buttons that say stuff like “I’m a Vietnam Dropout” and “I like acid!” It was all about self expression and peace and love and sex and drugs and good vibes, maaaaaan.

To myself and my friends, the Summer of Love is infamous because it left a lasting impact on our city. 1960’s fashion haunts the thrift stores that we still see frequently today, and all the cool kids still smoke their (now legalized) weed in the same spots their predecessors did exactly fifty years ago. In particular, the epitome of the Summer of Love occurred in the Haight-Ashbury, a neighborhood in the heart of San Francisco that remains almost as unabashedly weird as it must have been in its heyday. 

This exhibit displayed the outfits and artwork that shaped the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury into a legendary movement. Incredible concert posters, invitations to seances, the wackiest outfits, and the flashiest psychedelic masterpieces can be seen at the exhibit this summer, not to mention a grand psychedelic room with fluffy beanbag chairs to fulfil all your Instagram-related desires! The San Francisco de Young pays a delightful homage to a summer that forever flipped the course of American history and culture.