Those skateboarding rapscallions on the Lower East Side can bow down to Architecture For Humanity and Nike’s GAMECHANGER $$ for finishing the Manhattan Bridge Skatepark (a.k.a. LES skatepark) just in time for “Go Skateboarding Day.” ANIMAL’s Bucky Turco witnessed the swarms of skaters hopping and cheering around the boarding playground as if it had never been a grungy haunt in need of some community love. The skatepark was dirty. The skatepark was gross. And with the recent closure of popular skating spot Brooklyn Banks, Architecture for Humanity partner Steve Rodriguez of 5boro had his work cut out for him.
Concrete slabs were still being poured in two weeks ago as builders from California Skateparks buzzed around the Construction began last year to improve the 21,000 foot skatepark, addressing the vocal local skate community irate with the park’s rusted rails and plastic ramps. The response was…shall we say…ecstatic.
“It’s amazing. I love the way everything’s set up. I love the obstacles, the concrete…I think it’s just sick,” said Xavier, 17, an LES boy who wasn’t surprised by the turnout. Not every NY skater comes out for Go Skateboarding Day – but a lot do. “Definitely a lot. We’re like a family. I love this.”
The love was a-flowing:
“I love it! I LOVE this park,” said Shawnee, 18. “I just wish that I could skate right now but I can’t because there are so many people, and they think because I’m a girl that I’m not gonna do anything. But I am trying. And they’re in my way.”
The new park passed muster for goofy-footed pro skater Erik Ellington (!).
“It’s sick – it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it, but I skated here back in the day, a couple years ago, but it wasn’t anything like this. This is rad,” Ellington, 34, said. “I haven’t really gotten a chance to skate around it, I just got here, but I want to come back tomorrow or something when there’s not a whole lot of people who screw around.”
And there were, by many (very very different) accounts, a lot – from 500 to 2000 filtered through the park. More so at LES skatepark than in previous years – the sprucing-up was universally hailed.
“The thing is, LES has been here for a long time, but it’s always been really dirty, really grimy, and really gritty,” said Darin, 20, a skateboarder for 5 years. “Now Nike has come through and collaborated with the city and now we ended up with a beautiful concrete and marble park. And that’s what the city needs, y’know – we need the endorsement for skateboarding to keep it alive and kicking. You guys should see it, it’s amazing.”
His favorite new feature? “Kicker to the Hubba pyramid.” Ours? A clean, solid park that doesn’t grind hands and chip teeth.
(Photos/Video: Bucky Turco/ANIMALNewYork)