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April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 151

Throughout the history of urban skateboarding, there has always been a major public plaza that skateboarders flock to. While these plazas serve as a place for the general public, they are usually filled with architectural features that are ideal for the average street skater. As a result, these areas usually become the typical meeting spot for the skaters in the city. However, when word of these plazas gets out, they become a site for national and worldwide skate tourism. At the same time, they become centers for innovation in the skateboard community.

Perhaps the first major skate plaza that emerged was known as Embarcadero, which was officially named Justin Herman Plaza. Located in San Francisco, this plaza quickly became the epicenter of professional street skateboarding. Professional skateboarders such as Mike Carroll, Henry Sanchez, Jovantae Turner, Marcus McBride, and James Kelch frequented the plaza daily. Additionally, other professionals such as Jamie Thomas, Mark Gonzales, and Gino Ianucci filmed tricks at the plaza and helped to add to it's popularity. Embarcadero was notorious for the local skateboarders that frequented it daily. Known for their clique-like mentality, visiting skateboarders from all parts of the world were often harassed and not welcome. However, as Embarcadero's popularity grew, the businesses located around Embarcadero began to grow resentful of the large amount of skateboarders that were assembling near their shops. As a result, more pressure was put on San Francisco's police department to keep skateboarders out. In 1996, the Hyatt Regency, along with a string of other businesses, hired a police officer from the SDPD to keep skateboarders away.

With the demise of Embarcadero, skateboarders began looking for a new place to flock to. Philadelphia's Love Park became the ideal target. Officially named John Fitzgerald Kennedy Plaza, Love Park connected Philadelphia's city hall to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Love's possession of numerous benches, stair sets, and handrails became the ideal canvas for the urban skateboarder. Professionals such as Ricky Oyola, Josh Kalis, Anthony Pappalardo, Stevie Williams, Brian Wenning and even Bam Margera spent time filming at the plaza. As the popularity of the plaza grew, so did the careers of these professional skateboarders. Love Park truly had worldwide popularity. International skateboard tourists came as far as Spain, Australia, China and the Czech Republic to skate the plaza. Love Park's popularity became so strong that it became the site for ESPN's X-Games. However, by 2002, the city had enough. A skateboarding ban was imposed on Love Park in 2002. Police were placed in Love Park to enforce the ban. Another era of skateboarding had ended.

Skateboarders in America were growing tired of the hostile attitudes that American city governments and police departments displayed toward skateboarders. As a result, Americans began looking overseas for a way out. They soon found the answer. MACBA. Known as the Barcelona Musuem of Contemporary Art, the plaza that sat in front of MACBA brought another ideal skateboard environment to the skateboard world. Skateboarders such as Kevin Long, Sven Kilchenmann, Brian Wenning, and even Andrew Reynolds helped to make the site popular in the skateboard world. For the first time in skate history, a European plaza had become the skateboard hub. As the plaza became increasingly publicized, skate tourists flocked from America and Europe to skate it. Predictably, neighbors began to show concern about the skateboarders. Police began to enforce temporary bans on skateboarding. However, unlike America, there were never any permanent bans placed on skateboarding at MACBA. As a result, although the popularity of skating at MACBA has dwindled, skateboarding is still allowed at MACBA today. Skate tourists worldwide still flock to the plaza.

Source: EzineArticles
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