A Short History of New York’s Longest Lines

Ricky Oyola, godfather of the east coast “filming a line via just skating random shit on the street”-practice, once expounded on his peak skateboard dream: doing a line through Philadelphia’s then-standing City Hall, into the street, up into the Municipal Services building, back down the stairs, across the street, into Love Park, through Love Park, and end at Wawa.

The closest he got on record was a line from the end of City Hall, through the intersection, and into Love Park in Eastern Exposure 2, but it did establish a lingering precedent for connecting spots. Apart from Ricky and that Joey O’Brien Sabotage 4 line where he starts at Love and ends up in the garage beneath it, spot connecting does not have a rich history in Philadelphia.

Or anywhere, really — because doing a line from one spot, through the street, and to another, is fucking hard. There are variables (people, traffic, pebbles, maybe two sets of security, acts of God), and a pressing anxiety of missing the final trick in an already-long line, which gets amplified by the fact that fifteen other things went right up until that point. As you will soon learn, spot connecting is something most people do for the sake of doing it. In the majority of cases, they stick to their safe tricks.

Like Philadelphia, New York is a dense and layered city. Many of its streets are narrow, and depending on where you are, three or four spots could be across from one another. New York never had a “Big Three,” but it does have three different types of benches on four different street corners, and over the years, skateboarders here have kept their third eyes open and far-sighted.

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Firing Line: Artsy Edition

long lens

Long lens lines are chill. Though with our multi-decade dependence on fisheyes, they come few and far between. It’s tough to think of one from a classic video short of Ricky Oyola’s ollie into traffic line from Eastern Exposure 2, which certainly would’ve had its impact dulled a bit if the filmer ran up on the ledge to follow him or something. Much like Vine, you probably had to have attended film school in order to be good at filming lines without a fisheye. Framing, zooming, it’s a whole process.

Strangely enough, keeping the fisheye off sometimes gives you a better glimpse of how gigantic certain skate spots are, probably because we’ve grown jaded of seeing the same crouched down at the bottom of the steps angle with so many of them. This long lens version of Flo Marfaing’s infallible “Skateboard Line Hall of Fame” entry from the They Don’t Give a Fuck About Us bonus footage falls into that category. In the part’s fisheye version, it’s more of a “Oh, he’s skating the two big hubbas in Paris, that’s crazy” reaction. The fisheye angle doesn’t really drive home the fact that he ran the risk of falling over a fifteen-foot drop on two occasions in the same line. From the top of the spot, you might get the best view of this exemplary feat of line choreography. Still can’t think of anything like it done in the decade since…

P.S. Is there a scan of that Skateboarder “Greatest Lines in Skate History” article from the mid-2000s online anywhere?