Woodstock is Now Officially Registered as a Historic Place
The National Register of Historic Places has a new entry that celebrates the importance of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The site of the first Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which was originally promoted as an Aquarian Exposition in 1969, has been deservedly honored as a vital site of American history.
Woodstock took place two years after the Summer of Love in 1967, a time when young people decided that individual freedoms were being dominated by the establishment. The philosophy of peace and love was not promoted by mainstream American capitalism, which was firmly opposed to the counterculture movement taking shape at the time. Decades after the original Woodstock festival, which was attended by half a million people, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was created for the purpose of preserving the historic significance of the farm where the controversial concert took place.
The Summer of Love was underscored by the Monterey Pop Festival, which featured many of the bands and musicians that took the stage at Woodstock two years later. The Bethel Woods Center has held educational exhibits about the gestalt of the times shaped by the hippies, and one of the most interesting displays deals with the ironic commercialization of the counterculture movement.
Cartoonist R. Crumb, an underground cartoonist who was highly influential and active in the 1960s, has explained that the hippies underestimated the sheer power of the commercial culture peddled by Madison Avenue. He believes that the marketing medium as a whole is stronger than anyone can venture to realize. The illusion created by marketing forces is something that young Americans have been trying to shake off since the Beat generation, but many of the ideals and philosophies they create end up being appropriated for commercial purposes.
The Bethel Woods Center intends to show every aspect of the counterculture movement and how Woodstock was central to the experience; this is a fitting homage to the ideals embraced by the hippies and their transformation of American society.