Photo by Zach Baker
When celebrating the virtues of skate-friendly cities like Copenhagen, it’s important to remember that they didn’t become that way by accident. A place like Denmark may not have the vehement sue-happy culture we do, but there’s still a long process to build a utopia. People with college degrees and sophisticated understandings of architecture, city planning, etc. — who also happen to skateboard — fought for that shit. Many cities are slowly starting to recognize skateboarding as something more productive than spraypainting on a wall or pissing in a corner. Now the next step is figuring the subtleties out. “Maybe a blind-built pre-fab park isn’t the best idea…”
When presented with a chance to do something permanent with the locals in Providence, it didn’t make sense for it to be an exclusive keyholder type of project. It also didn’t make sense to add on to an existing skatepark; they have a whole community already doing a good job at keeping that flame lit.
Filmed by Dan Mcgrath and Johnny Wilson.
Adrian Hall Park, across the street from the Trinity Repertory Theater in downtown Providence, has been a stop for skaters since the early nineties. It has a platform to do tricks off, some steps, and a curb — not a great spot, but enough to keep interest when you get the boot out of everywhere else downtown and are willing to settle on skating anything, insofar as you don’t get hassled. Beyond the skaters, there usually isn’t a whole lot going on in the park. It’s not scenic, as it’s on a side street next to a parking garage: a perfect place to drink a brown-bagged beer or take a nap on some cardboard if you don’t have anywhere to be that night. It was also a solid candidate to be turned into something more than just a barren stone park.
The locals jumped through all the hoops to build here — the parks department, building inspectors, the whole lot. Through some persistence in finding the right people to talk to and creative know-how of concrete-work, downtown Providence now has a new, sanctioned skateable space. It’s not a skatepark, it’s not in a cage, and doesn’t exclude the rest of the public…it’s still a city park.
One of any skater’s favorite pastimes is bitching about a new skatepark (“I dunno man, it doesn’t flow well, and why’d they put *that* there?”) There’s no communication, so it often results is something inconsistent with the needs of that particular scene.
It’s a two-way street, but if there’s a chance to be a part of that conversation, we might as well take it, or interrupt enough until someone decides to listen. We can leave all the “but is it…#AUTHENTIC?!” shit out of it. We all just want a place to skate. As we all slide deeper into adulthood, tagging along with a bunch of 21-year-olds getting kicked out from spot-to-spot, or sharing a crowded skatepark on your one day off doesn’t sound very appealing. Europe works because they value open, multi-use spaces. We’re happy to have been a small part of the process for this one, and taking a step in the direction of skateable space that isn’t necessarily a skatepark.
Thanks to Young Will for all his help in orchestrating this project, Levi’s Skateboarding for the support, and to all of the Providence locals for the love. Shout out to Cranston Max, I hate Johnny Wilson too. Also shout out to Curt Columbus at the Trinity Repertory Theater and Josh Miller at Trinity Brewhouse.