Soldiers & Sailors Monument, 1979. Photo by Nathan Tweti
When a kid first picks up a board, their perspective on skating is inherently limited. It is a moment in which all skating is usually represented by the neighborhood spot — be it a driveway, parking lot, or skatepark — and the people found at that spot. The years pass, and skate culture opens up as one watches videos and travels further away from home, but there is a purity to that initial perspective, when skating, and one’s burgeoning love for it, is narrowly embodied by that singular spot.
Filmed entirely at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Greg Navarro’s “The Upper West Side Curb Club,” is a skate filmer’s loving tribute to the spot he grew up skating.
Rarely seen in videos, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, or just “The Monument,” is made up of a few curbs, canons and some “ledges,” that are tucked up in a park on 87th and Riverside, secluded from the shinier skate hubs of New York. With a cast of locals hitting every inch of the park, making spots out of the crust available, Greg’s video is reminiscent of simpler days spent trying to find new possibility in obstacles that have already taught you everything you know about skating. “Upper West Side Curb Club” is not limited by this nostalgic simplicity: the video is evidence that a spot’s value is determined primarily by the devotion and creativity of the skaters who hang out there.
I sat down with Greg at the new Andy Kessler skatepark on 108 to talk about the video and The Monument.