|Fifteen years of DIY evolution under an ordinary overpass outside Philadelphia|
In the early 90's skateboarding had found a special place in Philadelphia with the Love Park. Skaters traveled from around the world to skate its pristine ledges and infamous fountain gap. And while the struggling skateboard community embraced the “park”, the city felt otherwise. To "clean up" downtown Philly the city hired security at Love Park and slapped some concrete under an I-95 overpass in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park some five miles outside of town, calling it a skatepark for the youth.
Love Park was not originally designed for skateboarding yet the large space, granite ledges, manual pads and stairs made the plaza attractive to skateboarding and in the late 80s early 90s it became a popular location for skateboarders. During this period, the city of Philadelphia gave skaters leeway to skate at Love Park. Philadalphia and Love Park were seen as ‘untapped’ resources in this period, as they had previously received less coverage in videos and magazines than spots in California. In the mid 1990s, Love Park’s sense of community and international reputation as a skateboarding locale had been achieved through the successes of some of its most famous users: Bam Margera, Stevie Williams, Josh Kalis and Philadelphia native Kerry Getz had substantial portions of their video parts containing footage of them at Love.
Unfortunately, tensions arose because the close proximity of Love Park to City Hall. The city called skateboarding a disturbance with grinding and sliding on waxed benches and ledges creating a series of gouges, scratches, striations and traces of board paint. And bill 147 was passed in 2000, which “prohibited skateboarding on all public property unless otherwise authorized. The efforts to stop skateboarding in Love Park increased. Police began vigorously enforcing the ban on skateboarding in Love Park and would arrest and fine skaters or confiscate their boards. Placing the final nail in LOVE Park's status as a world renowned skate–spot, Mayor Street ordered the park to undergo a $800,000 remodeling which added planters to block ledges, covered other areas with grass and flowers and replaced stone benches with wooden ones.
Love Park was officially fenced off and closed on April 25, 2002 for renovations.
The closure and remodeling of Love Park was a massive blow to the skateboarding community in Philadelphia. A massive exodus of skaters out of the city occurred, as their sole reason for being there was Love Park. But eventually, skaters moved to FDR.
Although laughed at by locals at first, after some serious DIY renovation FDR skatepark was born. Documenting the past 15 years of constant construction and evolution is the new book FDR Skatepark: A Visual History, released late this past summer.
No doubt inspired by the godfather of DIY skateparks, Portland'sBurnside, FDR is seven years its junior, but larger and constantly growing. Regardless of age or size, FDR is internationally known as being both an extremely difficult place to skate and a generally sketchy place to hang out. Through 170 pages of archival imagery by 25 contributors and brief interviews with longstanding locals a sense of this righteous and raucous attitude is captured.
While the aesthetic is raw, the book's execution is polished, toeing the line between photography and skateboard history book with captivating imagery that appeals to both parties. Either way the informative book holds a rich history built of hard work and dedication that's likely to appeal to everyone from those who've spent a lifetime pushing wood and even to the outside admirer.
As the entire park has been funded out of pocket by dedicated locals, all proceeds from FDR Skatepark: A Visual History will be donated to further expand the park's illusive boundaries. For more information see Architzer's first look. To grab a copy of FDR Skatepark: A Visual History check your local skate shop or find it online through Amazon for $23.
The original story appeared on http://www.coolhunting.com/
Overview image by Ryan Gee