If you run a New York-based skate website for nearly ten years, it’d make sense to get Keith Hufnagel onboard for something along the line. Except there isn’t a ton of unchartered territory for an interview after the Epicly Later’d series or anything of that sort. Huf already had a Chromeball guest post, and this is not much more than a geographically constrained bite of that idea.
There aren’t a ton of proper “parts” from when Huf and that generation of skaters were growing up skating in New York, but a bunch of memorable photos. Here are Keith Hufnagel’s favorite New York skate photos, with a bit of commentary on each one.
“Sheffey & Coco in Midtown” (Photo by Bryce Kanights)
I grew up skating that spot. When we were kids, none of us could ollie that gap, so we couldn’t understand how they could do doubles on it so close together. Eventually, I was able to ollie it and do more things over it, but always had that photo in mind whenever we’d skate there.
I used to see Sheffey all the time when he rode for Shut and still lived out east. I’ve seen him skate that spot once, and he was doing backside 180s over the ledge and down into the pit. He used to always hang outside Soho Skates or Skate NYC. I wanted to learn how to ollie like him. He’d never stop skating, and would always be pushing around doing the craziest ollies.
“Hensley at the Harlem Banks” (Photo by Bill Thomas)
The Harlem Banks were a mysterious spot for us growing up. We always heard about how it was in such a bad neighborhood, how nobody could go up there and skate, and if you did, you’d need a huge crew. I don’t even remember exactly where they were; I feel like they were in the 110s or 120s on the eastside, next to a park. Keenan Milton used to live by 123rd and First Avenue, but we wouldn’t even go there with him. Harlem was a much different place than it is today, so we mostly stayed downtown. I went up there once, did a few kickturns and jammed out — it was too sketchy. I don’t even know when they demolished it, but it must’ve been in the early nineties.
That photo is special because the Harlem Banks disappeared pretty quick. Gonz had some stuff, Hensley had some stuff, and I think maybe Coco had a photo from there. They didn’t have a long life. They were gone before a lot of people had any chance to skate it. Only a handful of people ever got any coverage there.
“Bruno’s World Trade Nose Wheelie” (Photo by Bryce Kanights)
Basically, the rest of these are all World Trade Center photos…
It’s an iconic New York spot, and g-turns were super popular back then — you could end a run just doing a g-turn nose wheelie — it was an actual trick. It’s a very stylish, cool looking photo that really shows that period in New York City.
We used to skate these garages below the buildings near there when it would rain. You could go ten stories underground, and they had these double-sided curbs all the way down. If security saw you come in, they’d stop you, but you could sneak by them and chill down there for a while. After [the 1993 bombing], you weren’t able to go down there anymore.
“Bici’s World Trade Ollie” (Photo by Dimitry Elyashkevich)
I remember when that bank was set-up. They had an area closed off for construction, and built this banked wall with a fun gap in between it. It was pretty much in the same place as the Bruno photo, between the buildings. It was pretty tight for photographers to have that view. Dimitry has some gems for sure.
“Jeff Pang Japan Grab” (Couldn’t track down who took the photo, sorry.)
We used to skate that spot all the time too. It was a manny pad with a bunch of three stairs to the side. That photo really set the tone of street grabs being a big thing at that time.
Jeff was a living legend in New York. Everyone watched him and followed what he did. There weren’t a ton of east coast skaters getting coverage — it was all west coast dudes who’d come out on trips. When Gonz or someone would show up to the Banks, everyone would sit there and watch. We grew up in a city where we didn’t really see skateboarding like that. Jeff, Sheffey, Coco were the exceptions.
Thanks to Dario Phillips for the link. Have a good one.