Photo by Pad Dowd
One of the byproducts of New England’s tightly-knit park scene is that it created a generation of locals who are resourceful and good with their hands. There’s not always a park being built, but if you look hard enough, there’s always an opportunity for a one-off in a forgotten crevice of the city. These will range from the equivalent of what we know in New York as works of “Jerry Duty,” to micro spots that stuff one-tenth of a skatepark into a cleared out corner behind an industrial zone.
A lot of these spots aren’t under some main bridge, or in a well-traversed warehouse district, e.g. how the B.Q.E. spot is a fully public D.I.Y. creation. Maybe a guy knows a guy who knows a guy, and he’ll give skaters free reign over a hidden patch of land to the side of his building before he figures out just what the hell he’s going to do with it. The results become a bowl corner next to a factory’s crumbling smokestack, or a wavy spine concoction built over an out-of-commission gas pipe that even National Grid doesn’t know the deal with. Barring a few anomalies, the northeast isn’t equipped for long lasting full-fledged D.I.Y. skateparks like more spacious parts of the country are. People have been living on top of each other for hundreds of years here; spots like these are left to make do with the leftover crumbs of the city.
Filmed by Johnny Wilson & Max Palmer. Alternate YouTube Link.
The most insane example involved a thirty-minute drive from downtown Providence, until you pull up to a dilapidated building in a neighborhood that has nothing but liquor stores. If you’ve seen that movie Prisoners, it’s basically like that building where Hugh Jackman takes the guy to torture him.
It was once a community college building, and now sits in the hands of one of the aforementioned guys waiting to figure out what the hell he’s going to do with it. Through some commissioned handiwork, a few of the Providence locals built enough trust with the dude to take over a small 20 x 20 foot room inside it. You go up a set of dark stairs, through a bunch of hallways covered in the sort of shit that you’d expect to see in a defunct school building that never got cleared out, to get to that weird lil’ Panic Room. They built a bowl in it — the weirdest, most in-the-cut, not-in-a-million-years-would-you-guess-this-building-had-a-bowl-in-it, bowl I have ever seen. Still a bit surprised someone didn’t creep up and kill us.
Photo by Pad Dowd