Deadheads and Merry Pranksters recognize Jerome “Jerry” Garcia as a highly influential inhabitant of San Francisco’s legendary Haight-Ashbury district in the 1960s. Next weekend, the city will officially recognize Jerry Garcia, too. Alternately known as “Captain Trips,” the nine-fingered guitarist and de facto leader of the Grateful Dead actually hailed from the city’s Excelsior neighborhood. On October 16, the city will honor its most musical hometown son when a sidewalk plaque is officially dedicated in front of Garcia’s boyhood home.
News of the proposed commemorative plaques was revealed by the San Francisco Examiner on July 30, 2014 — the day after city supervisor John Avalos introduced a resolution to allow the Department of Public Works to install official plaques to distinguish two of Jerry Garcia’s childhood homes.
121 Amazon Avenue is where the Garcia family lived until 1948, when Jerry’s father, a jazz musician named Joe, accidentally drowned on a camping trip. Eighty-seven Harrington Street is where Jerry lived with his maternal grandparents until the age of 10, when he moved to a waterfront hotel with his mother. Both Excelsior district homes have been considered historical places to Grateful Dead followers for decades. Now, the City of San Francisco seals the deal with the installation of commemorative markers at Garcia’s boyhood homes as well as the inclusion of the houses on the City’s official list of historical places.
In Avalos’ proposal regarding the Garcia plaques, he described the beloved Grateful Dead frontman as “a reluctant cultural icon of psychedelic music and the hippie movement that helped define San Francisco in the 1960s.” The proposal, which also mentioned gonzo author Hunter S. Thompson, cultural icon Bob Dylan, and Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, noted the following:
“Garcia’s childhood was surrounded by music: His father, Jose, was a swing-band leader, his mother played piano, and Garcia said he learned to love bluegrass and country music through his grandmother, Tillie’s, habit of listening to the Grand Old Opry on Saturday nights. Commemorating the childhood homes of Jerry Garcia will celebrate Garcia’s unique contributions to the social and cultural life of the city and help promote the significant role the Excelsior District played in the formative years of this unique San Franciscan.”
The official unveiling of the Garcia memorial plaque at the corner of Mission and Harrington Streets is slated to occur on October 16 in conjunction with the Excelsior Sunday Streets Festival. Funded by private donations along with contributions from groups including the San Francisco Arts Commission, the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, Chinese Community Health Plan, and the Jewish Senior Living Group, the afternoon event will feature free entertainment, food booths, and vendors selling a variety of locally sourced goods.
How to get to the Excelsior Sunday Streets event
Main thoroughfares in the Excelsior neighborhood will be closed to cars for the duration of the event, which is scheduled to last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 16. For this reason, event promoters recommend walking, bicycling, or taking public transportation to and from the Jerry Garcia plaque unveiling and concomitant Excelsior Sunday Streets festival.
According to the event’s official website, several MUNI lines will take riders to and from the festival. Hop aboard the 8x, 43, 54, or 88 on Geneva, take the 44 on Silver (north of the route), or board the J, K, or M rail lines on San Jose (approximately a half-mile west of the route) to reach the festival. Additional MUNI route information can be found here.
BART riders disembark at the Balboa Park or Glen Park stations. The Balboa Park station is within easy walking distance of the southern end of the Sunday Streets route. The Glen Park station is just a few blocks from the northern end of the route. BART offers accommodation for bicycles. For further route info, please click here.
[Featured Image by JalloM/ThinkStock]