It was billed as “the only foreign tour in the domestic United States,” but the hippies were the ones taking the trip. At least, that was the gimmick used by a tour company that organized a bus trip around San Francisco for tourists to gawk at the hippies who had flocked to that city in 1967.
“The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco is not so much a neighborhood as a state of mindlessness,” TIME had explained earlier that year, as the city sat on the cusp on what would come to be known as the Summer of Love. “The Erewhon of America’s ‘pot left,’ a 10-by-15 block midtown section, has over the past year become the center of a new utopianism, compounded of drugs and dreams, free love and LSD. It is a far cry from the original Utopia, envisioned some 400 years ago by Sir Thomas More, whose denizens demanded six hours of work each day: the 7,000 mind-blown residents of San Francisco’s ‘Psychedelphia’ demand a zero-hour day and free freak-outs for all.”
As seen in this clip, from the PBS American Experience documentary Summer of Love — which is being rebroadcast on Tuesday in honor of the 50th anniversary of that remarkable season — what was going on in San Francisco intrigued those who would not themselves have been interested in tuning in, turning on or dropping out. As filmmaker Gail Dolgin said in a statement about the project, the California city “seemed like mecca” for the young people looking for “a visionary new society.” It seemed more like the moon for straight society, with visitors hoping to catch a glimpse at the outside from the protective distance of a moving vehicle.
After all, as TIME would note in a cover story on the movement, “perhaps the most striking thing about the hippie phenomenon is the way it has touched the imagination of the ‘straight’ society that gave it birth.”
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