Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, America’s youth grew dissatisfied with society. The product was hippie culture, where like-minded individuals lived together in communities and villages away from society. Hippies joined together to build a life centered around artistic expression, spiritual traditions, and generally a mode of living that was not in line with mainstream American values. From fire-eaters to Woodstock, take a look at these photographs that show what life looked like in hippie communes.
Woodstock attendees slept wherever they could.
Obviously, Woodstock was the place to be! Though they struggled to get there (insane traffic jams) and only about half a million people reached the venue. But once they arrived, the challenges didn’t stop there. The crowds experienced bad weather, muddy conditions, and a lack of food, water and sanitation. People slept wherever they could!
commune-dwellers usually built their own homes.
A group of commune-dwellers pose for a photograph outside of a cabin they constructed themselves. They were big on creating their own living arrangements by themselves, using whatever material they could find from the land.
Friends at The Isle of Wight Music Festival, which Had more attendees than Woodstock.
Music lovers from all around the world flocked to the Isle of Wight for an epic lineup that included Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and more. The 1970 event was by far the largest festival. The British festival was said at the time to be one of the largest human gatherings in the world with estimates of over 600,000 people, surpassing even Woodstock.
The Woodstock Festival lacked sanitation and showers, but people made do with what they could get, often bathing in a nearby lake.
The Festival ran short of food, water, sanitation, and space. Around 7 or 8 wells were dug into the ground to be used to store drinking water. Also, there was a lake close by which many people bathed there.
colorful hitchhikers on the move
Hitchhiking first became popular during the Great Depression, when vehicles were scarce and free-spirits looking for a lift were numerous. Tired of the confines of a white picket fence, these free-loving children of the road were looking for more than what mainstream society offered.
The 1960s were an age of fashion innovation for women.
This stylish woman’s outfit looks like it would belong at modern-day Coachella. The 1960s hippie movement had a big role in revolutionizing fashion. Bell bottoms were usually worn with chiffon blouses, polo-necked ribbed sweaters, or tops that bared the midriff. These were made in a variety of materials including heavy denim, silks, and even elasticated fabrics.
Festival goers climbed the sound tower above the massive crowds to get a better view of the stage.
Even though the event was a success and lives on in our culture’s collective history, it was really hard to pull off. On the morning of Sunday, August 17, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller called festival organizer John P. Roberts and told him that he was thinking of ordering 10,000 National Guard troops to the festival, but Roberts persuaded him not to. Sullivan County declared a state of emergency!
No matter that it stormed, nothing could rain on their parade.
Even though the facilities were not equipped to provide sanitation or first aid for the number of people attending; hundreds of thousands found themselves in a struggle against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation. But that clearly did not stop them from having the time of their lives!
Volunteers harvesting grain on “the farm,” a utopian commune.
Founded in 1971, The Farm is a utopian-esque commune near Summertown, Tennessee. They call themselves an intentional community based on principles of nonviolence and respect for the Earth. From its founding, Farm members took vows of poverty and owned no personal possessions other than clothing and tools, though this restriction loosened over time. Members also abstained from artificial birth control, alcohol, tobacco, and animal products. In this photograph, Farm members are carrying a grain called sorghum.
Hippies ceremonially light incense which they use as an aid to meditation.
Hippies ceremonially light incense which they use as an aid to meditation. The hippy following has affinities with Buddhism and they place emphasis on seeking the God within. Hippies were looking for something else than what society proposed them in terms of spirituality. They went to look in the already established religions all around the world and together they created a movement that is called New-Age, and that is including the philosophies of every religion, as well as many current thoughts that are not considered religions; stuff like ecology, pacifism, humanism, etc.
Antiwar demonstrators tried flower power on Police.
This photograph “Flower Power” was taken by American photographer Bernie Boston for the newspaper The Washington Star. Taken on October 21, 1967, during the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam’s “March on The Pentagon”, the photo shows a Vietnam War protester, George Harris, placing a carnation into the barrel of an M14 rifle held by a soldier of the 503rd Military Police Battalion. It was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize.
Hundreds of thousands of people came together to celebrate peace, love, and happiness.
Woodstock has always been described as an environment where hundreds of thousands of people came together in a spontaneous moment of non-violence and love. Accounts of sharing whatever food, water, clothing, blankets, and affection are legend.
Communes became your family.
Each hippie commune was different. Some were deeply spiritual communities while others were completely secular. Some were strictly self-sufficient agrarian societies, but other hippie communes participated in capitalism owning businesses and selling rock albums, for example. There was no “one-size-fits-all” model, and each hippie commune developed its own culture, rules, and personality over time.
There Was A 20-Mile Traffic Jam Getting Into Woodstock.
The event was intended for no more than 50,000 people, despite already having sold hundreds of thousands of tickets. The first logistical problem ensued when the small upstate New York roads could not handle the resulting traffic. At its longest, the traffic jam on Bethel’s Highway 17B stretched for 20 miles. Concert goers faced with a total standstill simply abandoned their cars and began to walk to the festival site.
Everyone let loose and danced the days away.
It was all about the music at Woodstock! And clearly, by these two women dancing to the beat, the quality of the music was spot-on. In a Huffington Post piece on the event 45 years later, Annie Birch recalled: “The acoustics were amazing; the sound went out, hit that hill full of people and bounced back to the camping area. I remember (yes, I really do) late Friday night listening to Arlo Guthrie’s performance echoing off that natural amphitheater bowl.”
Not even torrential rainstorms could keep Woodstock attendees from having a good time.
The conditions might have been mediocre, but that didn’t stop festival-goers to keep moving, grooving, and slip-n-sliding! The positive attitude and fun atmosphere made Woodstock the hippie generation’s landmark moment.
“You certainly felt like you were part of something.”
Randy Holliday was 21 years old when he got to Woodstock. He told the Fayetteville Observer about the vibe at the festival: “There was a real kinship. You certainly felt like you were a part of something, I felt like it was a very sincere emotional bond with the generation at that time.”
A woman trying hard not to slip and slide in the mud.
The first night at Woodstock brought a torrential rainstorm. It turned the entire venue into a mess of mud. One attendee, Hendrik Hertzberg, described the result in the New Republic: “Our sleeping bags and clothes got hopelessly soaked and muddied. Our spot was right next to a sort of aisle – a thick, slippery, brown river of boots and muck.”
Volkswagen Vans became a communal form of escapism For nomads looking for alternative lifestyles.
Vans became a communal form of escapism for liberated youth, where nomads could band together and live beyond mainstream society. Van culture connected people who shared visions of an alternative lifestyle; it was at the heart of the counterculture. With the limited space that comes with living in a van, people can only carry their most essential items with them, forcing them to reassess what’s truly valuable in their life. The lack of material goods allows people to embrace immaterial things like health, nature, and freedom.
Fire-eater performs for a crowd
54-year-old Mat Mathastins created a crowd to display his fire-eating talent. He said he has been eating fire since he was 12 years old! Surprisingly, Mat was an interior-exterior decorator and lived in a hippie home that distributed free food.
A young woman named Andrea Morgenstern dances in the crowd to celebrate Canada Day.
This incredible photograph was taken on July 1, 1967, showcasing a young woman who has captured the attention of everyone celebrating in Queen’s Park. Despite the heat and humidity of the day, Andrea Morgenstern danced the drug and other dances wearing black bikini bottoms and a lace shawl. For more than an hour, a crowd of 200 hippies stomped their feet, clapped their hands, and sand folk songs as Andrea Morgenstern danced.
Woodstock festival-goers hitchhiking for a ride home.
Attendees depart from the Woodstock Music Festival in White Lake, New York on Aug. 18, 1969. More than 50 years ago, more than 400,000 people descended on Bethel, New York, headed to a dairy farm owned by Max and Miriam Yasgur, where the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was being held. Planners had told the Yasgurs and town officials that they expected no more than 50,000 attendees and were overwhelmed by the huge crowds.
It’s estimated that there were at least 100 communes in the state of Vermont during the height of the hippie culture. While nearly all the original communes are gone, their legacy gave Vermont its green movement culture we all know today. From farmer’s markets, food co-ops and alternative energy pioneers, the state’s character stems from its commune days. This man and woman were living in a commune called Tree Frog in Guilford, Vermont.
An anti-war demonstrator offers a flower to a Military Police officer.
An anti-war demonstrator offers a flower to a Military Police officer during the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam’s 1967 March in Washington, D.C. How did flowers come to symbolize peace? Scott McKenzie’s rendition of John Phillips’ song, “San Francisco”, became a hit in the United States and Europe. The lyrics, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”, inspired thousands of young people from all over the world to travel to San Francisco, wearing flowers in their hair and distributing flowers to passersby, earning them the nickname, “Flower Children”.
SWAMI SATCHIDANANDA OPENED THE WOODSTOCK MUSIC FESTIVAL BY SHARING A PRAYER OF PEACE AND LOVE.
Swami Satchidananda was an Indian religious teacher, spiritual master, and yogi, who gained fame and following in the West. He opened Woodstock with: “One thing I very much wish you all to remember – with sound we can make, and at the same time break. So let all our actions and all our arts express Yoga. Through the sacred art of music let us find peace that will pervade all over the globe. The future of the whole world is in your hands. You can make it or break it. The entire world is going to be watching. The entire world is going to know what the American youth can do for humanity.” He later became known as “The Woodstock Guru.”
Fashion in the 1960s represented a new feminine ideal for women and young girls: the Single Girl.
The 1960s saw a new chapter for women who began to take control of their own lives. Books such as Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” also pushed women towards a more independent lifestyle. The second wave of feminism was getting its start during this period. Fashion in the 1960s represented a new feminine ideal for women and young girls: the Single Girl. The Single Girl represented ‘movement’. She was young, single, active, and economically self-sufficient. To represent this new Single Girl feminine ideal, many 1960s photographers photographed models outside—often having them walk or run in fashion shoots.
This rural, hippie commune called “Drop Art” was founded by 4 college artists who rebelled against consumerism.
In 1965, four college artist friends decided to buy seven acres of land near Trinidad, Colorado to create a live-in piece of “Drop Art,” which is essentially impromptu art meant to cause a discussion that rebelled against consumerism in the United States. Transients and hippies built the communal village using only the items they could find around them, including trash. They would even craft roofs from automobiles which were used to create the panels for the domes. They relied on themselves by growing their own fruits and vegetables and harnessing the power of the sun through dome walls.
Music was both a means of social commentary and a form of self-expression.
This wonderful photograph captured the essence of being at a music festival back during the hippie era. Here a hippie is seen letting loose at The Rolling Stones concert in 1981. Music became the soundtrack for the new youth culture. Musicians like Bob Dylan showed that a pop song could be both a means of social commentary (and protest) and a form of self-expression.
Man perched in the sky reading a book During Woodstock Festival
Woodstock was more than just the music. People flocked from all over to enjoy the company of other like-minded individuals as well as to escape for the weekend. This man perched up on top of a pole reading a book looks at absolute ease.
Hippies embraced a back-to-nature spiritual life of meditation, yoga, and healthy living.
Many hippies rejected mainstream organized religion in favor of a more personal spiritual experience. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sufism often resonated with hippies, as they were seen as more freeing, often using meditation as a tool. Some hippies embraced neo-paganism, especially Wicca. By the 1960s, western interest in Hindu spirituality and yoga reached its peak, giving rise to a great number of Neo-Hindu schools.
Hippies jamming out at The Hog Farm, which is considered as America’s longest-running commune.
The commune began as a collective in North Hollywood, California, during the 1960s, and later moved to an actual hog farm in Tujunga, California. Founded by peace activist and clown Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) and his actress wife Jahanara Romney (Bonnie Jean Beecher), the Hog Farm evolved into a “mobile, hallucination-extended family”, active internationally in both music and politics.
Canadian hippie traveling around Italy pulling a cart with his only belongings.
Hippieism wasn’t just an American cultural shift- it developed around the world. Its origins may be traced to European social movements in the 19th and early 20th centuries such as Bohemians, the influence of Eastern religion, and spirituality. The hippie trail is the name given to the overland journey taken by members of the hippie subculture and others from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s between Europe and South Asia, mainly through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. The hippie trail was a form of alternative tourism, and one of the key elements was traveling as cheaply as possible, mainly to extend the length of time away from home.
Father Yod was the spiritual father of a commune called the Source Family.
Father Yod (or YaHoWha) was the American owner of one of the country’s first health food restaurants, on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. He also founded a spiritual commune in the Hollywood Hills known as the Source Family. The core communal group of 150 people lived together in a mansion in Hollywood Hills. Father Yod had a total of 14 wives and 3 children. He was also the lead singer of the commune’s experimental psychedelic rock band, Ya Ho Wha 13. Basically, Father Yod did it all.
A woman and her pet monkey in the crowd at Woodstock.
An unidentified woman smiles while her pet monkey sits in the middle of her group enjoying the good vibes at Woodstock. Man, we wish we had her story to tell, but unfortunately, it’ll have to remain a mystery.
Ya Ho Wha 13 and The Source Family
Founded in 1973 in the Los Angeles area, Ya Ho Wha 13, otherwise known as Ya Ho Wa 13 or Yahowha 13, is a psychedelic rock band fronted by Father Yod, spiritual leader of a religious cult called the Source Family. Ya Ho Wha without the vowels and spaces reduces to YHWH. The band recorded nine LPs full of their extreme psychedelic sound with tribal drums and distorted guitars, some of which were completely unrehearsed jam sessions, others which contained more conventional rock songs.
A Stylish Woman Wearing Ethnic Clothes in The Woodstock Festival
Prior to the Woodstock generation, wearing so-called “ethnic” clothing from all over the world was unimaginable. But by the time 1969 rolled around, young people were topping Indian print tunics with Peruvian alpaca ponchos; African dashikis were making common cause with Pakistani trousers.
Max and Miriam Yasgur on their land after the Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
Woodstock almost didn’t happen! As we all know, it did, but only thanks to a man named Max Yasgur. He was almost 50 years old and yet agreed to lease some of his land to the festival organizers. Yasgur was paid a reported $75,000 for the use of 600 acres of his land, though reports on the exact sum differ.
A hippie couple taking a walk in Australia (1967).
The peace and love sentiment that resulted in communal living didn’t just stay put in America. People all over the world heard the rallying cry of the counterculture and joined in. Australia is home to many destinations that satisfy free-thinking creativity and communal living with like-minded folk such as these two.
Young people near the Woodstock music festival in August 1969.
Jimi Hendrix was the last to perform at the festival, and he took the stage at 8:30 Monday morning due to delays caused by the rain. The audience had peaked at an estimated 450,000 during the festival but was reduced to about 30,000 by that point; many of them merely waited to catch a glimpse of him, then left during his performance.
The Beatnik Beauties Posing are contestants for the title of Miss Beatnik of 1959.
The news photo caption for this 1959 event in Venice, California read: “Beatnik Beauties: Posing before a sample of beatnik art are contestants for the title of Miss Beatnik of 1959, which will be conferred Sept. 12 under sponsorship of the Venice Arts Committee. From left are Michi Monteef, Sammy McCord, Patti McCrory, Shaunna Lea and, in rear, Jan Vandaveer.”
The photo was published worldwide and became a symbol of the flower power movement.
The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet is a photograph of Jan Rose Kasmir, at that time a high-school student. This iconic photograph was taken by French photographer Marc Riboud while taking part with over 100,000 anti-war activists in the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam’s March on the Pentagon to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Seventeen-year-old Kasmir was shown clasping a chrysanthemum and gazing at bayonet-wielding soldiers. The photo was republished worldwide and became a symbol of the flower power movement.
Yvonne Freeman of Southend, Essex, sitting atop her psychedelic car.
This photograph was taken on February 10, 1971, depicting Yvonne Freeman of Southend, Essex, sitting atop her garishly painted Skoda, bearing the slogan ‘Look Good’.
It took a decade for the Woodstock organizers to turn a profit.
That’s right, the world’s biggest music festival ever was not raking in the money. In fact, it took a decade for the Woodstock organizers to turn a profit. Roberts, Rosenman, Lang, and Kornfeld spent nearly $3.1 million ($15 million in today’s money) on Woodstock and took in just $1.8 million. Roberts’ wealthy family agreed to temporarily cover the costs, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Rosenman and Roberts were finally able to pay off the last of their debt.
Jimi Hendrix was the headliner at Woodstock, but few people actually saw him perform.
It was clear that the announced schedule had gone off the rails, with acts finally appearing hours after their intended start times. However, due to a clause in Hendrix’s contract that stipulated that no act could perform after him, organizers were unable to move him to a Sunday evening slot. By the time Hendrix took the stage at 9 a.m. Monday morning, most of the festivalgoers had headed home and missed Hendrix’s set.
All were welcome.
Woodstock was a place where people (and animals) could come together and share a joint experience celebrating the hippie counter-culture movement. Peace, love, happiness, and good music alongside furry friends was what 1969 was all about.
Hippies during a sleep-in and starve-in at the steps of City Hall.
Hippies took to City Hall in Yorkville, Canada, vowing neither to eat or drink until Yorkville Avenue was closed off to traffic. Back in the 1960s, the neighborhood of Yorkville was Toronto’s “bohemian cultural centre.” Yorkville was the hub of Canada’s hippie movement where artists like Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Margaret Atwood, and Joni Mitchell all hung out.
It was important to rest up in between each band’s set.
In between the music, partying, dancing, and hanging out with other festival-goers, you had to make sure to catch up on some sleep whenever you could. That might mean sleeping on the hood of your car.
Fashion didn’t matter at Woodstock. In fact, clothes were optional.
Even today, we all conjure up an image of Woodstock fashion: braids, flowers, flowy shirts, and skirts. But actually, clothes at Woodstock was actually more of an anti-fashion statement. If you look, the clothes were rather ordinary. They did not have any labels, a fixed style, or even a mandate to wear any!
He’s got the best seat in the house.
The Woodstock Music Festival began on August 15, 1969. Billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music,” the epic event would later become synonymous with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Woodstock was a peaceful celebration and earned its place in pop culture history.
1967 draft card burning in Sheep Meadow in Central Park.
April 15, 1967, yet another anti-war rally took place as a part of the “Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam”. Once again the number of demonstrators grew drastically to an estimated 100–400 thousand attendees. This peace rally, which assembled and started off in Central Park and then marched to the United Nations, was said to be the largest of its kind at its time. Around 75 protesters burned their draft cards.
a collective living in Israel is called a kibbutz -Gan Shmuel in 1953.
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The principle of equality was taken extremely seriously during the 1960s and 1970s. Kibbutzniks did not individually own anything, not even clothing. Gifts and income received from outside were turned over to the common treasury. All members ate meals together in the communal dining hall. All of these factors were seen as an important aspect of communal life.
Hippie Sentiment spread worldwide: Protest against the Vietnam War in West Berlin in 1968.
It wasn’t just American hippies who wanted the war in Vietnam to end. 10,000 West Berlin students held a sit-in against American involvement in Vietnam. People in Canada protested the Vietnam War by mailing 5,000 copies of the paperback, Manual for Draft Age Immigrants to Canada to the United States. On March 17, an anti-war demonstration in Grosvenor Square, London, ended with 86 people injured and 200 demonstrators arrested. Japanese students protested the presence of the American military in Japan because of the Vietnam War.
Commune dwellers working in the cotton fields in Israel, 1958.
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The first kibbutz, established in 1909, was Degania. Today, farming has been partly replaced by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities.
A “lie-in” held in Central Park to protest against the Vietnam War and racism. They laid down to symbolize those who died in Vietnam.
As part of gay liberation, the Hippie movement, and the opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the counter-culture generation decided that Central Park would be the perfect place for their demonstrations and protests. These “be-ins” or “lie-ins” were demonstrations to protest against various issues that were happening during this time period. In this photograph, the people laying down were representing those who died in Vietnam since January 20, 1969.
Young Israeli hippies celebrate the full moonlight festival.
Young Israeli hippies celebrate the full moon festival on August 16, 1989. Interestingly enough, hippie culture and commune living expanded beyond America. In fact, hippie culture was adopted all over Europe and Israel, too.
Many hippie communes lived a self-reliant life and grew their own food.
The back to the land movement of the 1960s promoted cooperative business enterprises, alternative energy, the free press movement, and organic farming. Many criticized and rejected contemporary mass consumer society, and even one commune in Vermont opened free stores which simply gave away their food for free.
Italian hippies making music in a junkyard outside of Rome.
The late 1960s movement in Italy was inspired by distaste for traditional Italian society and international protests. Students of working or peasant backgrounds mainly drove the movement in an effort to change traditional capitalist and patriarchal society. The unrest began with student protests which were initially underestimated by politicians and the press. It later turned into what was called the “struggles of the workers.”
Saturday night in hippie haven was a swinging affair.
Saturday night in hippie haven was a swinging affair as the new residents of the newly-opened hippie hostel on Spadina Road in Canada gathered in the living room to listen to the sound of Beatle Bill and his guitar. Though only in operation for a few days, the hostel already held its capacity of 20 hippie tenants. The house (leased from the city) is operated by the Yorkville Diggers to give temporary shelter to transient flower children.
Commune dwellers celebrating a holiday in Israel, 1959.
Kibbutznikim (the name for folk who lived in communes in Israel) would celebrate holidays like Shavuot, Sukkot, and Passover with dances, huge feasts, and celebrations that would rival any music festival. With their desire to reconnect to the land, the holiday, Tu BiShvat (the “birthday of the trees”) was revived by kibbutzim.