All photos are enlargeable
There had been rumblings about Paine’s Park for over ten years. Even back when Skate Nerd was legitimately one of the few skate sites online, they’d post meeting info in an effort to get the project started. But Love and City Hall were around in original form then, so a Philadelphia skatepark was an afterthought for most. From the outside looking in, it seemed like the city was always more concerned with furthering its hatred of skateboarding (it’s not like they had massive school failures, mayors with corruption ties, or, um, rising homicide rates to worry about), instead of cooperating on a solution that would benefit thousands of people. Apparently, all those meetings mentioned in ten-year-old SkateNerd.com posts were the start of a decade-plus road to Philly’s first legitimate street plaza park, which opens today.
Paine Park’s marquee feature — and perhaps the first ever non-stupid thing pertaining to skateboarding that the city of Philadelphia has allowed to happen (remember the pre-fab “park” they built in Center City as a replacement for Love in 2002?) — is the re-incorporation of the City Hall and Love Park benches in the design. Yes, they actually *saved* the benches after tearing down the plaza and let skaters use them in a sanctioned area. You could be the streetest, most skatepark-averse guy ever, but being able to skate the City Hall benches without constantly looking over your shoulder is pretty incredible. As of yesterday, they all need wax, so assume they’ll be broken in by the end of the weekend.
The rest of the park is covered with four to five-foot-high smooth brick quarterpipes. They are built like natural, street-style transitions you’d find in Europe or Birmingham, so there is no coping on any of the edges. There is a big three area likely meant to mimic the Love fountain at the front of the park, though with the City Hall benches several feet away, people will probably use this area more for sitting than skating. The one glaring omission from the park is that there isn’t a single flatbar.
Oddly, the ground isn’t perfect. It’s not the glossy cement that L.E.S. or Astoria has. It’s a smooth-enough cement, but feels like a distant cousin of kill-your-pop ground in some areas, so you’d think that they’d become more closely related as the winters wear on. Also, there are four-foot brick breaks throughout the park. They’re easy to ride over for now, but after a year or so of skateboard wheels slamming on them (check the bench in the middle of the pic below…the bricks are exactly where you land coming off frontside for regular), they might start getting a bit haggard.
Paine’s Park is maybe two times the size of the L.E.S. park. Even those who avoid skateparks because of crowds could settle to a less-skated corner with several benches, and enjoy them while all the kids skate the quarter pipes and handrails. Locals have said that the lights are supposed to stay on all night, and based on the clip those Sabotage dudes put out of the park before opening, the lighting situation is solid.
It seems like the Franklin’s Paine people are over the hump with the city of Philadelphia being its old stubborn, moronic self. There are three other parks either being built or slated for construction throughout the city. Whether you like parks or not, it is a great look for a place that has hated skateboarders while being comfortable with taking their money for over a decade. With this next generation of kids, the term “skatepark kid” as a pejorative will cease to exist, because that’s what they’ll all be. Paine’s Park clips are going to become more of a daily Hella Clips tradition than Stoner Park clips are now. (Some have speculated that the opening of this park will coincide with yet another Love crackdown, but considering you can already only skate it after 10:30 P.M, maybe not.)
Great work from all those involved. Thank you.
The park is located at the intersection of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Martin Luther King Drive on the Schuykill river, just off Spring Garden Street, right next to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.