Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour
As seen in our October issue
Sure, being handed an empty warehouse, a handful of cash, and some of the best skaters in the world can make for some undeniably creative skate setups. But the honest truth is that our most beloved dream spots over the years have occurred naturally at the hands of an unsuspecting architect in the urban fields. As such, some of our most cherished non-designated playgrounds around the world have at times been struck down—lost forever to the dreaded knob, strategically placed flower bed, sandpit landing patch, or tragic full-time supervision by some poor extension of the law and order racket. Most legendary street spots have fallen never to return. But a rare few have been nursed back to health, raised from the dead, or simply re-ignited by our creative interest to live a new day of skateboard seduced symbiosis. The following are ten notable resurrected spots since The Turf came back from the roller disco grave in the late 80s.
1. Hubba Hideout—San Francisco, CA
The O.G. namesake of millions of ledges down stairs watched Kalis switch back tail, Garcia nollie flip noseslide, and Koston back noseblunt before she was seemingly 187’d in ’00 by the city placing benches at the tops of the stairs and hefty knobs down the slabs. But in ’06, a few ambitious locals hacked off the knobs, leading to a solid year of resurrected assault. Exasperated, the powers that be struck again in ’07 with the aforementioned sandpit landing. Yet, even today, dedicated soldiers like B.A. and Ramondetta continue to keep Hubba alive. According to sources in the city, “You just have to be precise and pop back onto the bricks.”
A Hubba history segment from On Video in 2001.
2. Brooklyn Banks Nine-Stair Rail—New York City, NY
The historic brick-lined gift to New York’s skateboard scene nurtured some of the East’s greatest talent and best times since the Bones Brigade logged footage there in Future Primitive (’85)*. However, following 9/11** the NYPD designated the banks a parking lot for the city’s squad cars and go time became sparse. Meanwhile, the nine-stair rail (see Jamie Thomas’ opening line in Welcome To Hell [’96]), which had been taken out (or stolen by a rollerblader depending on your sources) around ’98, then shortly revived by a Vinny Raffa-installed replica, disappeared entirely until the Banks were officially renovated and designated a multi-use/skatepark in ’07.
Jamie Thomas back lips the nine in his first trick in his opening line in Welcome To Hell.
3. Chain To Bank—San Diego, CA
Sometimes a spot doesn’t even need to get deaded for coverage and attention to dry up. Sometimes all it takes is a video summary of Tom Penny “closing it down” à la Anthology (’00) and we simply lose the drive to go back. For whatever reasons, however, SD’s chain to bank is back. Now the home of double flips and mannys, perhaps skateboarding’s collective consciousness simply needed this long to recover from the stunning hangover of Tom’s one-day magical assault.
The story behind Tom Penny’s chain to bank annihilation in TWS‘ Anthology.
4. Cardiel Ledge—San Francisco, CA
The words legend and Cardiel are about as interchangeable as Sarah Palin and her Tina Fey-enacted SNL parody at this point. Since John noseslid the big side of this lengthy California Street hubba for his Big Brother interview in ’92, it was knobbed seemingly for the count around ’00. Seven years later, anonymous Bay Area freedom fighters hacked off all impediments and the ledge currently sits liberated and ready for action.
Reese Forbes tailslid the Cardiel Ledge in TWS‘ The Reason (see 6:36).
5. Venice Elementary Hip—Venice, CA
In a testament to the infinite scope of our ability to adapt, sometimes the “skatestoppers” themselves become embraced as entirely new obstacles. This was most certainly the case in Venice. When the school decided to end Natas, Stranger, Martinez, and the rest’s historic enjoyment of the hip by closing it off with suspended metal bars, Venice locs proceeded to make the curved flatbar at the bottom of the bank a new spot altogether. Give us lemons—we make lemonade.
Andy Howell skates the hip and the “skatestopper” flatbar at 3:20.
6. Earl Warren—Solana Beach, CA
You could hardly run through a video in the late 90s without the prerequisite downhill line there (solidly punctuated by Penny’s 411 Flip Industry nestled line ending with the asleep-at-the-wheel back tail down the rail). While Markovich had noseslid the gap to ledge in the self-titled Color vid (’93), the spot had seemingly gone the way of VHS tapes. Then somehow, Slash crooks in his Ride The Sky (’08) line and this one-hitter is all up in the mags again. However, newly installed gates have put a stop to Earl’s official welcoming back.
Check Wes Kremer’s opening switch tre bombs down Earl Warren in the Sk8mafia Am Video.
7. USC Ledges—Los Angeles, CA
Since Gabriel, Paulo, Rudy, and Guy hopped over the pole in Ban This (’89), USC was a 90s-long quasi-EMB for central L.A. skaters. Everyone from Keenan, Gino, AVE, Jesus, Wenning, and onward joined the mobs of camped out Mexican groms daily in annoying upwardly mobile college coeds on their way to class. While the subsequent campus security patrol cars and sporadic ticket eventually ended the all-day sessions, a recent development meant to dead the ledges for good has seemingly backfired on the university. With two-foot-wide dirt gap channels around all the benches, skateboarding once again turned water to wine by simply viewing what was meant to repel them as an added challenge.
AVE skated USC like no other. Just take one look at his Seek And Destroy last trick in Photosynthesis.
8. Pyramid Ledges—New York City, NY
These longtime NYC ledge-tech stomping grounds got the knob in the late 90s. Although they were briefly liberated with some accompanied video of Jake Lewis removing the stoppers in ’00, the building’s management quickly retaliated with a new set of bolted cockblockers a few months later. Fast-forward to last year when early fallout from W’s economic downturn caused said managers to lose all their building’s tenants. As a result, both sides of Pyramid are currently stopper free, and the spot is a full go.
Jake Johnson’s switch flip switch nosegrind on the pyramid ledges in Mind Field was most epic.
9. Place Masséna—Nice, France
Growing up Southern France, the red brick plaza and big three you may remember from such clips as Gino’s closer Cab in Hot Chocolate (’04) was our everyday, all-day EMB. Yet in ’05, with the city intent on building their new tramway right over it, the spot was fenced off and slated for demolition. Our local shop owner, Toto, went to city hall and convinced the mayor to allow him to throw a demo there and invited city planners to come watch how skateboarders used the space for a positive purpose. Long story short, a just-returned-home sponsorless Bastien led the charge with a six-hour free-for-all demo and the city agreed to build the tramway track around the plaza instead of on it. Merci, Bastien.
Here’s the closer…
10. Library Ledges and Gaps—San Francisco, CA
The S.F. Library ledges that accompany what should be known as Keenan’s Switch Inward Heel Gap have been either knobbed or a bust on and off since Lavar obliterated them in ’99. Yet, over the past three years, steady sessions have been slowly building up again. As of this writing, the ledges are up and running and you can catch heavy sessions there with some of Frisco’s finest any given Sunday after five.
Mike Carroll’s skates the library in his infamous opening line in TWS’ Modus Operandi.