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Journalists have skated the surface of hippie goings-on, but for real insight about the participants and their not altogether relaxed hosts, The Atlantic turned to Mark Harris, a resident of San Francisco and the talented author of The SouthpawBang the Drum Slowlyand Twenty-One Twiceamong other works. It was easier to see than understand: the visual was so discordant that tourists drove with their cars locked and an alarmed citizenrry beseeched the police to clean it out. It was easy to see that the young men who were hippies on Haight Street wore beards and long hair and sometimes earrings and weird-o granny eye-glasses, that they were barefoot or in sandals, and that they were generally dirty. A great many of the young men, by de or by accident, resembled Jesus Christ, whose name came up on campaign pins or lavatory walls or posters or bumper stickers.

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Nostalgia runs high as the city approached 50th anniversary, but residents say free love has given way to wealth and individualism. I saiah Wolfe, who goes by the name Orange, spends his nights under a bush outside Golden Gate park and his days on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets, soaking up the love.

Love from his wife, his dogs, his buddies and everyone else who calls this part of San Francisco home. It happened in but Orange, a Minnesotan who has criss-crossed the United States sleeping rough for three years, could feel the glow 50 years later.

Sunshine Powers, an artist with a passion for glitter, also sensed the ethos of that summer, whenhippies turned this neighbourhood into a counter-culture citadel.

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What happened here 50 years ago transformed who we are as a society. Stroll around Haight-Ashbury this week and it was easy to believe that. Young people with backpacks lounged on benches, some holding flowers. Stores selling handmade jewelry, vintage clothing and Tibetan-themed knick-knacks lined the streets. The aroma of pot mingled with incense.

Across the city posters with psychedelic swirls proclaimed a summer of love. The perpetual bay area fog lifted, bathing it all in sunshine. It resembled a minor miracle, or time capsule. The spirit of the Beat poets and flower children who gathered here to create a new paradigm of sharing and community, alive in The Bay Area today is the global headquarters of big tech.

Summer of love

Here community is a euphemism for customers, disruption means starting your own company and free love means Tinder or Grindr. An evicted year-old woman recently became a symbol of gentrification. Artists, writers and musicians are leaving for cheaper cities. Even techies with six-figure salaries complain about rents.

How the summer of love came to san francisco 50 years ago

Companies like Uber and Airbnb have appropriated the word sharing for the gig economy, itself a euphemism for perpetual work. In place of hippies subsisting on acid and food handouts there are hipsters with bowls of organic acai and yoga studio subscriptions. Siegel has run his own store, Distractions, on Haight street for 41 years.

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It sells Burning Man-type regalia. As he spoke to the Observer, Siegel politely rebuffed a walk-in vendor hawking a bag of clothes. It is, of course, no surprise that the city has changed in half a century.

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But the summer of love cast a mystique that enchanted San Francisco, baby boomers and succeeding generations around the world — a swirl of art, politics, music and revolt that others have never managed to fully replicate. No wonder San Francisco clings to San Francisco is still an intellectually curious city that supports the arts.

The trouble is that others cannot afford to live in the city. Emily Duffy, 59, a stained glass artist and self-described hippy, gave a harsher verdict.

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It has been Google-ised. All my artist friends have left. Steve Dickison, a prominent local poet, detected enduring traces, such as the City Lights book store. She has set up the Council of Love, a non-profit, to raise funds for clinics and shelters which date from Powers said artists could survive in San Francisco.

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Down the street, Orange and his homeless friends acknowledged that money troubles overshadowed their summer of love. Sunshine Autrey, 18, a recent arrival, stood out with his non-hippy attire. Overcrowding, homelessness, drug addiction and crime, including sexual assaults, soured the original summer of love. By October much of the influx left.

Yet many stayed on in San Francisco and bequeathed a little known legacy, one omitted from the flower power myth.

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San Francisco continually erased aspects of its past, he said. The Observer San Francisco.

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Hippies dance at a psychedelic rock concert at the Fillmore auditorium in San Francisco, California. Rory Carroll in San Francisco.

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Sat 6 May Ordinary people can't afford a home in San Francisco. How did it come to this?

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There was once a time when the old Victorian homes of Haight-Ashbury were some of the cheapest in the city.