An Illustrated History of New York’s Most Colorfully Named Spots

Illustratations by Mike Gigliotti

Good spot names are one of New York’s enduring traditions. A name condenses a spot’s origin story into one or two words, often a homage to its earliest conqueror (R.I.P. Huf Ledge, Vallely Banks, etc.) A spot name could also provide useful visual cues to look for (R.I.P. Bubble Banks, Pigeon Shit Double-Set) or even smell for (R.I.P. Shit Hubba) upon first arrival — a shorthand to know you’re at the right place. And a spot name is a way to pass along useless essential folklore to skaters yet to be disappointed by the diminishing expectations of our city’s most sought-after destinations.

But good spot names are dying.

Look, we’re the last ones who should be chastising the internet for making people dumber, but it is all spot apps’ fault. Peruse through any spot finder and you’ll see things called “black marble,” “bank to curb,” and “sketchy eight stair.” Imagine dying and your best friend eulogizes you as “tall, sketchy, with brown eyes?” Skate spots let us mark up all their corners, and ask nothing in return except maybe to pick up the trash when we leave. They deserve to be called something more vibrant than “downhill ledge.”

This history bypasses all spots named after what they actually are, e.g. what building they are adjacent to. It’s pretty easy to figure out why Pace University Ledge, Paine Webber Benches, and Lenox Ledges have their names. It also avoids one level beyond that: spots named after the neighborhood they are in. Polish Park is called that because it’s in a Polish neighborhood, Gay Ledges gets its name because it is in a gay neighborhood, Hasidic Gap because it is in the Hasidic section of Williamsburg, and Crackhead Park because…well, you get it.

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