Detour Launches Haight-Ashbury Audio Tour Today

Today marks the launch of Detour's new audio tour of the Haight, which offers a new spin on the many on-the-ground tours of the neighborhood and its counter-culture history.

Detour, for the unfamiliar, is the brainchild of Groupon founder Andrew Mason. It's a platform for streaming audio tours of neighborhoods or features of an area, with the goal of illuminating some unknown corners of a potentially familiar landscape.

The Bay Area tours, for example, include local explorations from the Painted Ladies to the Albany Bulb to the Tenderloin to a tour of the Castro with Cleve Jones.

The Haight's hour-long tour, which is focused on the 1960s, is narrated by former Haight denizen Peter Coyote (a founding member of the Diggers) and Mary Gannon Alfiler, former bassist for the band Ace of Cups.

In the intro, Coyote notes that he came to the Haight in 1964, and acknowledges the Haight's history as a center of '60s-era peace and love. "But really I'm going to show you a side of the Haight you won't find in any of the hookah lounges or tie-dye shops you see here today," he says. "I'm going to take you to a secret store where everything is free. I'll show you a painted door that changed the future of medicine ... and sure, we'll visit the Grateful Dead house too."

The online tour description holds more hints:

Along the way, [Coyote] will tell you about feeding whale meat to hundreds of people in a park, tearing it up with the Hell’s Angels, turning tie-dyed shirts into a fashion statement, and sparking radical social changes that have become mainstream.

Detour production manager Juliet Hinley said in an email that the Haight Detour is among a handful of new tours being co-produced with KQED. (In a February request for ideas, Detour indicated that it was looking for a tour idea for the Haight that "even hippy-haters would love.") KQED-produced tours of the Mission and Chinatown will debut early next year.

From today through Sunday, November 15th, you can download and listen to the Haight tour for free; after that it's available for purchase through Detour's app. If you'd like to take the tour as part of a group, you can join the Detour team in the Panhandle this Saturday at noon, 1:30pm, or 3pm, to take the Detour for free. (An Android app is still under development, but there'll be spare iPhones and headphones that Android users can borrow.)

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