Friday, February 24, 2017

Skateboarding History | Sidewalk Basics

It might still be a fairly new activity – but skateboarding history has a lot of depth…
From Sidewalk Basics – Autumn 2013

The very first rudimentary skateboards began to appear in the 1960’s but at this time the boards were little more than toys which mimicked surf boards and came with metal or clay wheels which made doing anything beyond riding down the smoothest street virtually impossible. Skateboarding stayed in this state until the mid 1970’s when the first ‘skateboard craze’ took over the world and skate culture, as we know it today began to emerge.

Skateboarding boomed in the mid to late 1970’s with its popularity exploding across the world. Advances in wheel technology, (namely Frank Naseworthy’s invention of the polyurethane ‘Cadillac’ skateboard wheel in 1973) suddenly allowed skateboarding to move beyond the flat ground due to better wheel traction and durability and in turn, skateboarding became to number one leisure past time across the globe.

As its popularity increased the idea of sponsorship and professional skateboarding was born and the limits of what could be done on a skateboard was pushed beyond all expectations and many of the basic tricks still done today were invented by this first generation of rippers.

Skaters such as Stacey Peralta, Tony Alva, Steve Olson, Duane Peters and Jay Adams pushed the boundaries of skateboarding tricks and skateboarding became an activity with a set of defined tricks, rather than the surf-influenced toy it had been previously.

The 1970’s also saw the beginnings of the idea of the custom-built skateboard facility with skateparks appearing in every major city across the USA and Europe. Unfortunately many of these skateparks were built quickly and shoddily; often by people with no knowledge of skateboarding who were purely interested in capitalising on the skateboard boom.

Sadly, this created a situation whereby skaters injured themselves on badly constructed skateparks and often sued the park owners causing thousands of skateparks to close, sometimes less than a year after opening. This, combined with the overall assumption that skateboarding was nothing more than a passing fad, eventually led to a bust situation and by the end of the 1970’s only the most hardcore skateboarders were left, often with nowhere but backyard pools left to skate.

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