“Wait…there’s beaches in New York?”
These are the sort of questions asked by people who have only looked at maps with pins to spots on them. Even then though…sheesh.
(And yes, have heard this question posed more than a handful of times in life.)
For years, a beach trip with a pitstop to the Beach 91st skatepark has been a summer ritual. The park’s longstanding wooden incarnation, by modern standards, was shoddy. It looked exactly like the sort of beachfront skatepark you would’ve expected a city to build in 2004.
But it had charm. It had character. It was battered. It was beautiful.
Though it may have looked looked outdated in the cornucopia of 2020 New York skateparks, it earned your respect. It was decimated by a fucking hurricane, and Frankensteined back to life to live another half-decade. The beloved concrete bench from the B.Q.E. Lot made a spiritual journey to find a seaside home there to live out its twilight years. The locals who braved the elements to skate there through New York’s four seasons are a special breed; they put any of our inland complaints about it being “too windy” in December to utter shame.
We rooted for the original Rockaway Park because it was scarred and flawed, just like we are. It didn’t have the flowing modernity of the L.E.S. Park, or the spacious luxury of Astoria. It was too mangled, and had too many nails sticking out of its edges to allow our love, but it commanded a sliver of asinine hope from all of us — not unlike the scarred and flawed local NBA team it shared an orange and royal color scheme with.
In its place is a faceless, grey chunk of geometric modernity, which is now open to the public. Some colleagues are still enmeshed with nostalgia for the old park, and how it harks back on a simpler time. We paid the new one a visit the other day.
It is about one-and-a-half times the length of the Tribeca Park, but wider, with a transition section off to the side and generally just laid out better. The triple-set hubba ledge, which given its namesake, is really mellow, lowers the bar of bragging about doing tricks down a triple-set hubba ledge to accessible levels. There’s some Straight Fucking Ledges™, though none are in ideal position for learning tricks, as it’s the sort of park where you’ll seldom find a place to stand that isn’t either the left or right edge of the rectangle.
At present, it’s a new park and still 80-plus degrees outside, so it is a bit crowded: scooters, longboarders, beginners, parents, kids, dumb visitors like us, beach-goers, etc. Earlier in the day would probably be better ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Either way — it’s a skatepark on the beach. Like fish tacos and traffic, it’s sure to be an ingredient of everyone’s Rockaway excursions for many years to come.