Muni once detoured around hippies in the Haight


Yes, you read that right.

Back in March 1967, the outcry of Sunset residents was loud and serious enough that Muni rerouted Haight Street buses around the growing scourge that was the Haight-Ashbury district.

The Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub (he of this week’s Muni Diaries Podcast) unearthed his paper’s March 29, 1967 edition. There, sharing the front page with JFK’s widow, Jackie Kennedy, was the story by Mel Wax:

Members of San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission yesterday tried to find a way to “protect” people living in the Sunset from passing through the “Sodom” of the Haight-Ashbury District on Muni buses.

They agreed to reroute buses and trolley buses off Haight street on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Commissioner Thomas P. Stack wanted to make the change permanent, at least until the Hippie era ends. He proposed that the 71 and 72 lines to the Sunset be routed off Haight street for six months, and he asked Muni Manager Vernon Anderson to come in with appropriate legislation to change the routing on April 11.

“It’s a demoralizing thing that children have to go five blocks through this no-man’s land twice a day, on the way to school,” said Stack.

He characterized Hippies as “this wild movement akin to Sodom of Biblical days.”

“We will protect the young.” Stack declared. “We will by-pass the area.”

Anderson said Haight-Ashbury merchants are willing to go along with a rerouting of Muni buses and trolley coaches on weekends and holidays, between 10 a.m. and midnight, when the district is jammed with sightseers.

But, he said, “there is no emergency on weekdays that would warrant rerouting Muni, and merchants would oppose it.”

Anderson conceded that, if 200,000 Hippies come to San Francisco this summer, the situation would change. And, he said, on Easter Week, when school was out, traffic was “impossible.”

“Many taxpayers, productive citizens of the community, feel very strongly about rerouting buses away from the Haight-Ashbury,” Stack persisted.

One such citizen attended the meeting — Marguerite Warren of 1746 32nd avenue.

“The numbers 71 and 72 buses, and the N line, are our lifeline in the Sunset,” she said. “We’re law-abiding citizens who want to get home to our dinners.”

Riding through the Haight-Ashbury, she said, created long delays, and, she inferred, cold dinners.

Deputy City Attorney William Bourne said Stack’s proposal for a six-month rerouting requires a public hearing and approval by the Board of Supervisors.

The temporary switch for weekends and holidays does not. It will be put into effect starting Saturday, for an indefinite period.

The commission approved rerouting the No. 71 (Haight-Noriega), No. 72 (Haight-Sunset), and No. 43 (Roosevelt) buses from Haight street to Waller street on the inbound trip, and on Page street outbound, between Stanyan street and Masonic avenue.

Check out the super-cool old Chronicle front page (and Page 20, where the Muni rerouting story continues) here (PDF).

One comment

  • Dexter Wong

    I remember that well, I was in Junior High School at the time and I passed through the Haight-Ashbury once a week. The Muni rerouted the 71 and 72 to Waller St. and other lines to other streets to keep most buses off Haight west of Masonic. At the height of the Hippie era, my Aunt drove us pass Haight and Ashbury, but traffic was so bad that it took us half and hour just get by. Her car kept dying in traffic and she had to restart the engine several times.

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