Though far from a prominent spot this past decade-and-a-half, it is still worth noting that after five years of hearsay, the city finally closed off Astor Place and is turning it into “one of those” shitty parks e.g. what’s in front of the Flatiron Building.
Astor Place was the original New York non-spot. The city has a long history of turning absolutely nothing into a full skate spot, and it could be said to have started here. There were some trash cans and a metal curb here, just like there are trash cans and metal curbs on every other block in New York. Yet everyone risked tickets from cops and sideswipes from cabs to skate Astor because it had a zen-like quality. There was good flat, pretty girls walking by, no shortage of weirdos*, and a vibrance that you don’t catch from skating in a space enclosed from the actual street. People have to opt into Tompkins; Astor was in the middle of everything by default.
*(Re: Weirdos — For example, there was one night when a bunch of Starbucks employees got into a beef with a bunch of K Mart employees, so while his friend was in mid-arguement, one of the K-Mart employees runs around the block, down 8th Street, left on Broadway, and up Astor Place, to sucker punch the Starbucks employee. That same night, some goth kid climbed on top of the cube, fell off, and an ambulance showed up to cart him away.)
Photo by Mike Gigliotti
Filming at Astor in 1997 does not seem much different than filming at Tompkins in 2014. Those dudes had to be resourceful with rubbish found on the street here, and it didn’t hurt that they looked really cool simply doing 180s. After all, Hamilton Harris did one of the chillest lines in skateboarding history here. We compiled all the Astor clips from R.B. Umali’s two NY Revisted videos and threw them together on a timeline. Also, there’s a quick QS bonus reel at the end, but our time came after the glass condo, etc. went up, so that’s not worth romanticizing as much. The spot was on its way out by then and everyone just skated the front of Union instead :(