Chapter 1 | Summer of Love | American Experience | PBS

Chapter 1 | Summer of Love | American Experience | PBS

NARRATOR: It was the largest migration
of young people in the history of America. From every direction, they came, from the biggest cities and from the smallest towns, all bound for San Francisco in the summer of 1967. 100,000 is a minimum estimate of what’s happening. I think it’s going to be a major historical event for this country. STAN McDANIEL: We are trying to do what no one else has ever done before in this culture, and that is to find a new way for humanity. PETER BERG: Minds are up for grabs. It’s up for grabs; civilization is up for grabs. I think everybody knows it. NARRATOR: Drawn by the city’s new hippie counterculture, with its vision of changing the world through peace and love, they arrived in numbers great enough to create a crisis in San Francisco and threaten the utopian dream itself. There were people who were coming who were just coming for the drugs, who weren’t coming for, say, a spiritual awakening. PETER COYOTE: Kids were coming from all over the country. They were straining the infrastructure of the city. They were straining the resources. What could there be but trouble? ART GERRANS: It got ugly. And the original people that went out there for peace and love left. NARRATOR: Yet thousands would be swept up by a revolutionary movement that would shape American life far beyond that turbulent summer. NARRATOR: January 14, 1967. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Never before had America witnessed such an unusual gathering. There was no lineup of big stars swelling the crowd. No tickets were sold. No political candidates spoke. It was simply a coming together. They called it a Gathering of the Tribes… a Human Be-In. There were, like, 20,000 people, and it was this gloriously beautiful day as you can only have in certain times in San Francisco. The sun was shining. People were wonderful. You know, it was, like, my God, look at how many there are of us. NARRATOR: To most of the country, the Be-In must have seemed like a world turned upside down. A Harvard professor exhorted the crowd to reject the traditional path to success. Turn on, tune in, drop out. I mean drop out of high school, drop out of college, drop out of graduate school. NARRATOR: Hindu chanting melded with motorcycles and rock music. It was such an exciting, heady time to find out that under the official reality, there was this seething turmoil of young people learning new music, new thoughts, new ideas, new literature, new poetry, new ways of being. NARRATOR: This “turmoil of young people” was in part due to sheer numbers. Never before had so many Americans been under 25. There were over 90 million of them– nearly half the population– and many were disillusioned with the world around them. The president many had found inspiring had been assassinated barely three years earlier; war in Vietnam was killing a hundred American soldiers every week; month after month, dozens of young men were being drafted into the army… …and the struggle for civil rights at home had grown increasingly militant. Those gathered in the park that sunny January day sought a different world. THEODORE ROSZAK: It would be a world where people live gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature to find basic security. A simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community, sharing ideas, values, insights — a world in which that was considered more important than the gross domestic product. NARRATOR: The first hippies were children of the 1950s: the “Baby Boom” generation. Their parents had endured years of economic depression and a brutal World War. Now the future looked bright. Millions of Americans started families, encouraged by the unprecedented prosperity of the postwar economic boom. COYOTE: We came out of World War II as the richest, most powerful country on the planet, and our families built the suburbs, and the fathers went off to work and the mothers stayed home, and the kids were basically left to run around. NARRATOR: The new standard
of living in 1950s America offered an abundance of affordable homes, sleek new automobiles, miracle drugs. Science and technology seemed to have an answer for everything. But beneath the surface lurked a deep anxiety. Peacetime had devolved into a bitter cold war between superpowers. Americans linked to Communist groups were hounded and persecuted. NARRATOR: An atomic arms race fueled fears of annihilation. ROSZAK: That combination of affluence and anxiety is a crazy-making combination to live with, to grow up with, so you had a generation of kids who arrived at high school and then in college, trying to make sense of a world which they’ve been told is just grand and wonderful and there’s nothing to complain about anymore, and on the other hand, you look a little deeper into it and it’s just awful and scary. There was a deep issue here: whether material affluence is what life is all about. Because that is what an industrial society, a market economy can give you. But what
if that’s not good enough?

100 thoughts on “Chapter 1 | Summer of Love | American Experience | PBS

  1. In 1966 I was thirteen, and I lived with my folks in a town 15 miles south of SF. Me and my friends would hitchhike to the City on summer days, just to hang out. We'd go to the zoo, or Golden Gate park. There would be music, and a lot of other kids, and just stuff you would never see out in the suburbs. I remember listening to a band called Hercules and the Chicken Fat People. Haight Street was a bizarre sight by the time '67 came along. Hippies sitting on the sidewalk. By that time though, it was already a tourist attraction. Buses would roll by filled with sightseers. They would flash the peace sign as they drove by. All in all, those days were a fun time to be young.

  2. They were the generation of Peace and Love in the 60s. In the 80s, they became the generation of "how much can I buy a piece of that love for?"

  3. This was all started by the Merry Pranksters Stanley Owsley (I did some of his acid) Dr. Timothy Leary and bands like The Grateful Dead

  4. I would argue that this set the tone for young people across the country and defined the 60's and 70's as the decades of promiscuous behavior and drug use. But from my point of view, as someone who graduated High School in 1979 in middle America, we never had the high single motherhood birth rates they have today, so Im gonna say most of the reputation developed about the 60's and 70s was just folk lore.

  5. That summer grew out of a spring of war mongering wealthy bastards trying to draft decent young people to go kill others to secure their wealth for them. I saw with my own eyes what they did to 30,000 18 yo, young men at Ft Lewis, WA in 1966. God only knows haw many poor Vietnamese were butchered. The men heroes, the hippies heroes, the billionaires devils.

  6. In the summer of 1967, thousands of young people from across the country flocked to San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district to join in the hippie experience, only to discover that what they had come for was already disappearing. And Charles Manson made his APPEARANCE !!

  7. Don’t be fooled. It wasn’t all that. That was all surface. Eventually materialism took over. Those hippies are now corporate CEOs or worse.

  8. The only thing that can bring the people of the world together is music you can have thousands of people in one place where their religion their politics all their differences are irrelevant if they're all being turned on by the power of great music and understanding the importantance of protecting the natural world the very thing that let's us all live.

  9. San Fran was the Promised Land.
    Or they were coming from the drugs to give them a spiritual awakening…..
    Human Be Ins sound totally cool after all JFK was just assisantanted there was war happening in Vietnam.
    So,ask yourself why would young kids NOT WANT TO TRY TO AT LEAST TRY WEED AT LEAST??

  10. Before AIDS SPREAD before what we had after. Look at wonderful california now. Oh yeah hedonism is great till yoy have to pay the bill

  11. I wasn't born when this happened, but media and culture were steeped in the aftereffects of it in the years after. I have a strong fascination for this period of time, and I wasn't there to see it.

  12. The funny thing is, nothing got better since the 60s. When I was a kid in the 80s, all these Baby Boomer over romanticized the 60s and would tell me how great that decade was. I love the music from that era, but it does seem like a pretentious decade in some ways.

  13. They took a whole bunch of acid, so they could see where it's at. They lived on a whole bunch of nothing, they thought they looked very good.They'd never ever worry, they were always in a hurry to convince themselves that what they were was really very groovy. Yes, they believed in all the papers, and the magazines that defined their folklore.They could never laugh at who or what they thought they were, or even what thought they sorta oughta be. They were totally empty, and their lives were really useless. They didn't have no sense of humor, now they got nothing left to laugh about, including themselves.

    Frank Zappa

  14. They went in with the best of intentions, but they ultimately spawned the douchy regressive leftist shitbags we endure today.

  15. This is very truthful, finally someone admits the true hippy was gone, and all that remained was rebellious wannabes(same as now), undisciplined people with addictions, when they really didn't know much about addictions at the time. The wannabe hippies started the drug culture, they went on to be todays capitalists, the drug culture stayed and is destroying western culture. The minuet you gather and start to dictate how other people should think, feel and live, you breed diversity. The hippies were no different than the Christians, or the politicians, or the KKK, or any other body or movement that dictates human behavior as they see fit. You have control over one person, yourself, and that's all you can ever change. You teach others how to want to be by example. I`m sure a 67 year old grandparent wants to watch two twenty year old hippies screw right in public, after getting a contact from the three joints they just smoked. The only problem with wannabee hippies was they had fried their brains on drugs, and had a unrealistic veiw of what peace and love really were. The only example they set, was what NOT to do with a society….

  16. The time has come !!! The doors are OPEN !! Are YOU Ready ?
    I'm glad you BEE HERE NOW.

    2019 The Year we Break on Through !!!!! Allons Y'

  17. They weren't free!! There minds were blown by the government LSD program!! Designed to turn there soldier into deranged killing machines!!! So free that most ended up in mental institutions!!! Heroin addicts!! No they weren't free!! But there drug addled hallucination psychosis told them otherwise!!!!

  18. It might have been cold weather in SF during the Summer …The Summer Of Love should have been held in San Diego where its 80 degrees everyday at the beach…LOL

  19. I want people to know the psychedelics of the 60's are excellent when consumed with the greatest of life you need to love all of your life though to take these psychedelics much comprehension and much awareness of the goodness of life will hopefully find its way to the sunshine

  20. the left now are utterly corrupt, virtue signaling, cultural marxists with nothing to offer western society

  21. They were weird times for me too. No lunch and had to clean horse pens everyday. A dead brother in Vietnam and pets being hurt.

  22. The thing that always makes me feel sick about these aging hippies is that they seem to have learned nothing from their utopia back in 1967. They've grown up but still can't let go of the idea that a politician is somehow going to make everything alright, when they were supposedly FIGHTING politicians. How is it that they vote Democrat….worship The Clintons and Obama….when it was their lovely LBJ that sent their asses off to war in Vietnam?! Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees!

  23. Yep and now we're all in our 60's and 70's. What's next for us?? Gray hair, wet diapers and walkers!! Get busy having kids, Millennials. Someone has to pay our social security and Medicare.

  24. u know whats funny? is u can give um a shot of moonshine & amphetamine and tell um its methamphetamine and they will start an epidemic of meth that will leave out of that park and spread more disease that 1 could have ever imagine, Hepatitis C, Herpes everywhere,<Get that Valtrax> Don't forget Aids & Syphilis. Wait let me guess u mixed Aids & Syphilis and made "Super Aids!" LOL! Look Hippy or Junkie as it is! Leave the LSD,COCAINE,& Love Rush Dope Alone it's not meant for biker types, liberals, or pussies. It's meant for Big Boys that Pump pretty Ho's Asses the Rich Way the kind of man that keeps Vietnam for him self just to get his PUMP ON! son.

  25. 67 was special but 1969 was something else. It was my first year as a teenager and things were in a worldwind. Trying to make sense of the world around me was pure chaos. There were the Archie's Saturday morning cartoons, the bubble gum culture. Young girls in mini skirts and fish stockings. Rockers tuning into new FM underground stations. Pot was everywhere. The Vietnam War was tearing the country apart. And in the midst of it all, we landed on the moon. Woodstock happened and I played my first spin the bottle game ending with a kiss. That was 1969 for me.

  26. tripping back in time…when writing a story about The Summer of Love, growing up in San Francisco, being there, doing it – listening to the music, brought it all back, the groovy, the crazy, the bummers, the highs. City of Redemption – sex, drugs, rock 'n'roll, – yes, it was happenin'. Only the murder in the story wasn't part of it, I swear.

  27. Learn more about our documentary, SUMMER OF LOVE, including where to watch the full film:

  28. The movement imploded upon itself. Even in this video it says the original hippies left and those looking for drugs flooded the place. The OG hippies probably had their minds straight but then the opportunistic hedonistic crowd came in hijack the movement and in the guise of peace and love used it for their own gain like Timothy Leary, Joan Baez, and Jerry Rubin.

  29. There is something innate and immutable deep in the soul of every young American, calling them west, across the rivers, the prairies, the mountains, the deserts. So they set out, chasing the setting sun across the great ribbons of asphalt, tires drumming on pavement and hearts filled with hope. The drive until they can drive no more, until they reach the end of the road, the end of Interstate 80: San Francisco.

    For those that have never been, the counterculture is still very much alive in the Haight. For casual tourists, it is easy to miss – to see the Haight as a historical destination, with pretty murals and a few too many homeless. But people still come from all over to experience the true personality of the Haight. They come from far away, and often come with very few possessions. There, in the Haight, they can build a life; a life where they don't need to conform to societal expectations. They may not have houses, but they find something vastly more important to the human spirit – a sense of belonging, acceptance in a community.

    There is indeed a thriving, vibrant community of street people who live in and near the Haight Ashbury area and Golden Gate Park. For many, it is a tough life; many struggle with substance abuse problems, and to a slightly lesser extent, mental health issues. Some of them are running from something, or they have no place else to go; others are there by choice. But unlike being homeless in smaller cities where there is less of a community in the streets, the homeless in the Haight are not isolated. They may be down on their luck, but they have a social network to support them and help them.

    It is a different life than many in America experience. It is far less materialistic. It is in some ways more challenging, but in other ways more freeing. The counterculture is still there in the Haight. You may have take a deeper look than most tourists do, but it is indeed still there. And if you ever need it, it will be there for you too.

  30. I suppose, the reality of this; looking back now 50 years on into the 21st century A.D., we were spawned by parents who somehow managed to emerge from the world's second total war, with all the anguish and pain the experience must have purported, and so both music and poetry shifted surreally as part of the process of finding an alternative path for the true human being to follow. Whichever way you personally view it, from whatever perspective, embelish it as you will. Personally, I am giving as much thought as things deserve and try and produce a video of my own in the hope that, in the not too distant future, there might yet be a society unpretentiously established upon truth and the kind of love that earmarks sincere union of all peoples, irrespective of nations and national interests.

  31. Haight Ashbury is alive and well in every city. Just go find any homeless camp and you will see the same thing. Bums camping out, feces, trash, drugs, crime…………….and everybody with their hand out. Nearby will be a free soup kitchen, free clinic, free legal services, free cloths……………..

    This idea that you can build something by taking the scraps of an existing civilization and making it all free is biologically ignorant. Humans , like all creatures must put forth effort to survive.

  32. I remember seeing what looked like a PSA (public service anouncment) that ran in the early 70's on TV. It was about Haight Ashbury and it was narrated by Jack Webb (Dragnet). It was as if they were talking about the poor conditions in a third world country. The poverty and suffering kids, in the wake of the "Summer of Love" gone sour.

  33. The amazing thing about this is some of these hippies adopted their "run wild and free" into corporate America and then ruined the economy that their parents built.

  34. There is a wonderful photography book titled "Black Power – Flower Power" which documents in brilliant BW images not only the "1967 summer of love" in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury but also coinciding with the "black power" movement of the same year. These two social movements forever changed America. You can order the book at

  35. It seems that way too many Baby Boomers want to be seen as an 'Expert' on the Social Movement of the 60's and very early 70's when they themselves were Clueless of what it was all about back then.
    Anyone who does not recognize these few truths is simply a wanna-be and poser.:
    The "Movement" was:
    1. As a permanent source of real Change, it was a Failure.
    At different levels, it did 'some' change in some individuals because even those on the periphery gave extra thought to the concepts of "Peace and Love" (always a Good thing).
    But Societal Changes, it was impotent.
    Why? Because the Force behind it was Commercial and Financial Marketing of Products.
    Yes, the "Man" (who was portrayed as the Villain) was the real power behind the Hippy movement by the time it "Hit the streets"!
    TV shows, Movies, Magazines, CLOTHING, and of course "Music" all SOLD extremely well centered around this.

    2. Guessing at the Real percentage of ''Committed Counterculture people" was very low and their naivety proved unrealistic when tried in Real life.
    You don't see any Communes today and most of Our Generation has long ago settled for a 'Better truth'.
    The Counterculture Philosophy was BASED upon complete Autonomy and within ANY Society, you must have SOME Compliance to function as a 'Unit'!
    Oh! You don't LIKE UNITY? Your very own Commune is a Unit. The Seeds you sow and the hippy tie-dye shirts are MADE by Conformists! So's the toilet-paper you wipe your ass with!

    No practical talented person or group will last long if they're truly Cut-off from the Support of Society in which they've become reliant upon!

    3. Now looking toward the Hippy's "Mecca" aka San Francisco:
    Since the Counter Culture was based upon "Do whatever thou wilt!", SF and evolved into the mentally ill living on the Streets and Pooping on the curbs!
    Soon, there will be an outbreak of serious Disease and that will HAVE TO BE tented to by The ESTABLISHMENT and citizens NOT onboard with this Whole Philosophy will ALSO suffer!
    Not too "Loving" is it?

    Nearly NOTHING because the Pseudo-intellectuals like this lady don't know WHAT THE HELL IT WAS ABOUT, HOW it happened or Came about, it's fundamental Objective and What it finally brought over time.
    Don't Mistake the the Gift our Youth that is the "Natural" highlight in everyone's Life with a "Movement"!
    It was More the 'Time' on one's Life than it was the Philosophy although the Philosophy was a perfect match for that age group and existing Economic standing.
    Qui Bono? (Who Benefits?) 
    The "Man" on Wall Street benefited and greatly!
    Again, this REALLY WAS a "Communist/Socialist Conspiracy" and ironically Based upon Prosperity instead of Poverty!
    It put forth that Rebellion for the sake of Rebellion was the Ticket and so the young Got out of step at their own loss!
    Neither strict Conformity (as you would see in Japan) nor unfettered Rebellion makes a pleasant Society.
    Old and existing does not make invalid nor unworthy!
    That was left out of the 60's Social Experiment's Equation !

  36. When I was a kid growing up in a small town and a ranch in Oklahoma, every time a plane would fly over, I’d stare at it until it went out of sight and imagined that I was on it. All we did on a Saturday night was drive around up one street and right back down. So I couldn’t wait to arrive in Vegas for my birthday in 1969, I drove my aunts car downtown to glitter gulch and guess what everybody was doing? Driving around and around. Damn! People are the same all over America. But what was we looking for? We were looking for EACH OTHER!

  37. Many myths exist about the Hippie movement of the late 60s. A few important ones to note are 1) Actual, or even dare I say "real" hippies, weren't at the forefront of the antiwar protests in the street as many believe, and they certainly weren't supporters of the Democratic party at that time. They did not trust ANYONE in government. In fact, the real hippie movement included disconnecting and SECEDING from politics as a whole, as there clearly was no way of reforming or reinventing the system. Instead, they looked inward and chose to focus on things such as nature and spiritual growth. And yes, there were drugs 2) So-called "free love" was largely imaginary. The term continues to conjure up mental images of drug-fueled orgies in the woods, but that was hardly the norm. By most accounts, relationships were mostly monogamous and heterosexual. Sexual liberation was a real thing, but it was really about premarital and recreational sex outside the confines and pressures of societal norms at the time coming from the prim and proper post-war generation. So in that context there was in fact a sharp contrast in behavior compared to their parents, but it wasn't gang bangs all day long like so many imagine 3) The hippie movement was not centered only around San Francisco and other coastal towns. Hippies, both real and the wannabees, came from all over the country and from all walks of life

  38. Summer of Love? lol More like Summer of Selfishness. The most ungrateful and unmotivated and narcissistic generation of cowards to have cursed our nation. Glad it didn't last long.

  39. Bunch of rich white college kids who got high in a park while the others were at war and some fighting for civil rights! SHUTUP

  40. I am curious. What about their food supplies?. I know they beg and bring a little money, but that like 90 million people there. You cant feed all the people that a lot of food

  41. It started in California and it should have stayed in California. A lot of baby boomers tried it and eventually realized that there is something better than wasting their lives staying stoned and doing nothing all day. Born in late 1956, I consider myself a late baby boomer and when I was a teen-ager, I thought hey that's cool, doing nothing, having sex with any girl all day and smoking pot, but then I realized the deception and how destructive that lifestyle is, and thank God I stuck with the traditional ways.

  42. I honestly wonder what people think of Gen Z. Doesn’t seem like we’re known for much other than sitting on cellphones all day ??‍♀️

  43. The hippies understood that you can't keep raping the environment and live happily ever after they were ridiculed by the conservative mentality that greed is good back then and their still ridiculed today by the monsters of greed. The hippy dream certainly wasn't perfect but when you look at the state of the world today it's certainly a better way forward than the road were on now and the music that came out of that era brought people together and made a lot of people think about the big picture in the world being held to ransom by the curse of money.

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