Skate spots are living, breathing things. They shift with the socioeconomic climate of the time, and position themselves to best adapt with people’s needs. Skateboarding has always been reflective of greater society, so it should come as no surprise that our lives were pushed into Columbus Park as we began to get pushed out of the pricier, glossier haunts that we once frequented in lower Manhattan.
Columbus Park sits on ominous ground. It was built on top of what was once America’s first slum: a hotbed of vice, disease, murder and clashes for control that have been documented in many books and films. Though it would take decades for the neighborhood to rid itself of the notoriety it earned throughout the 19th century, the city built Columbus Park in 1897. A hundred years passed, and then a guy from Clifton, New Jersey came along. The park began its second life as one of the few downtown spots you can skate in 2017 without getting kicked out.
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Skateboarding thrives on the meet-up spot and the skate spot. The skate spot requires an obstacle; the meet-up spot does not. And yes, the skate spot can double as both.
But what about the in-between spot — the proverbial comma of the session? It’s the place where you grab a bite, sneak a beer, talk shit, look at girls, kick your board around, and hopefully,
summon the willpower to move on from ignore a “party on so-and-so’s roof”-text to continue skating. Astor Place was a one-time comma between downtown and midtown, but got phased out of popularity by the late nineties.
Even back when New York had actual low-bust plaza spots, Houston Park was unavoidable. In today’s current mode of cruising the Lower East Side until you hopefully maybe could find a propped up roadplate, it’s still unavoidable. Houston Park has metamorphosed with every cultural shift in New York skateboarding. What was once a B-list pitstop in the gilded age of unknobbed marble became a vibrant hub in this era of skating garbage and walls. We felt it only right to honor how far it had come.
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