Of all the people who flocked to the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco during the golden days known as the 'Summer of Love,' few saw the unfolding phenomena as clearly as photographer Gene Anthony.

From his Divisadero street apartment, one block up the hill from Haight Street, Anthony witnessed the extraordinary pilgrimage as more than 100,000 young people trooped into the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, beginning in the Fall of 1965. He strolled among the Flower Children, many of them recently arrived from elsewhere, with flowers in their hair, their few possessions bundled up in wildly painted vans, strapped onto the baggage racks of motorcycles, or worn on their backs.

In a period of 18 months, Anthony took part in the main events and struggles, while documenting it all. He turned his collection of over 5,000 images of the Haight's heyday into a book published in 1980, called "The Summer of Love; Haight Ashbury at its Highest." (A sequel in the form of a memoir with more photographs is due soon).

"All the craziness was just beginning," said Anthony of 1965. He attended the early Kesey Acid Tests, Bill Graham's Appeals, and saw the first performances of the Grateful Dead , Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballrooms.

The whole counterculture enthralled him; he now specialized in it, with its art and music. "The styles really turned my head. I loved the women who wore their mother's sleeky smoothies, the feathers, boas, long satin and silk dresses with rhinestone jewelry."

"Of all the work I've done in my 35-year career, the lasting pictures are from my 60s work, they have the most meaning for people today. I talk about it as a real fun time, which it certainly was. I also feel very fortunate and count my blessings every day to have been able to recognize what has going on.

It's Magic!"

Additional Sixties photography by Mr. Anthony

Visit the all new Gene Anthony's Summer Of Love site!

All photos ©1997 Gene Anthony

Baron Wolman Robert Altman Lisa Law Gene Anthony Michelle Vignes