Right now, the most Insta-famous street spot in New York is a Williamsburg basketball court with a couple plastic benches.
Prior to this spring — with the exception of a few loose video appearances — they’ve just been sitting there.
“Are those plastic?” A group of young men would observe, and keep skating onward to the Monument, onward to Reggaeton Ledges, onward to see if anything new and interesting had been built on the waterfront.
“There’s a whole city out there! Why waste time on recycled plastic?!”
Keep Reading »
Thanks to @johnnydeguzman on IG for the intel
Once upon a time, in a pre-Pratt Rush galaxy far away, Williamsburg was not the eminent skateboard destination that it is today. The Monument™ sat barren for days at a time, only one of its precious curbs waxed. Reggaeton Ledges was still home to Reggaeton basketball tournaments. The B.Q.E. Lot was merely a parking lot — not the internationally recognizable epicenter of crushed cinderblock sculptures that kinda-sorta resemble quarterpipes that it is today.
Skating east over the bridge, you’d notice something gleaming out of the corner of your right eye as you begin to hit the hill into Brooklyn. It was a Two-Up Two-Down, a couple hundred feet below.
“What’s that?!” one of your idiot friends would exclaim.
You’d skate down the bridge, forsake whatever plans of skating whatever bad spot you had in mind, and navigate your way over to this speck of a skate spot that you saw from above. If it was before 2010, the ground wound up being unskateable trash. If it was after 2010, the ground wound up being skateable trash. If it was 2015, and you were a Virginian, you actually just went there to skate on trash.
And today, it is 2018, and the spot is no longer with us to sing its siren song and entice bushy-eyed skaters making their first pilgrimage over the Williamsburg Bridge.
R.I.P. — until it’s 2019 and like, Eli Reed or somebody charges a backside 5050 hippy jump back to 5050 on it or some shit.
As D.I.Y. spots have become more common over the past decade, the Brooklyn Volcano remains an anomaly. It was the first New York spot of its kind, and existed in a place that could have hypothetically grown into something the size of a skatepark. Given the route real estate has taken throughout the Bloomberg years, it will likely be the last of its sort. New York D.I.Y. spots are now one-offs in spaces that could not accommodate a full, skater-made skatepark.
Daniel Campo’s The Accidental Playground is a case study of the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT), a onetime freight loading yard. The BEDT was home to the Volcano, a photogenic D.I.Y. spot overlooking the Manhattan skyline, seen in any skate magazine from the early 2000s. Campo is a former New York city planner and an architecture professor at Morgan State University. He is an advocate of “unplanned” public space, and writes The Accidental Playground to discuss the merits of when cities do not get involved with the recreational lives of their citizens, allowing them to “make their own environment.” These sort of spaces present a “get your hands dirty” alternative to the “manicured” nature of a Central or Prospect Park.
Compared to the restrictions faced in official parks, the BEDT was practically lawless within reason. Recreational use of the space was pioneered by dog walkers fed up with leash laws, but eventually gave way to a range of characters with interests that were not accommodated by other nearby parks. This included artists, a punk marching band, undocumented day laborers who could not procure on-the-books housing, and neighborhood residents who wanted to drink a beer outside without worry of an open container ticket. Campo considers skateboarding to have been the most sophisticated use of the space, though each group is afforded its own chapter in the book.
Keep Reading »
Photo via Mike Heikkila on Instagram
Some months removed from the demise of 12th & A, northern Brooklyn’s dustier and darker D.I.Y. equivalent is no more. As per several locals’ Instagram photos, city vehicles and bulldozers have been there all day removing most of the obstacles. No word if anything has been spared yet. Looks like the world’s laziest knobbing job from a few weeks ago, where someone threw soil all over the quarterpipes and ledges, was foretelling of a more permanent fate. Sucks that it had to happen less than a week after someone built the bank-to-curb. There’s always the McCarren Park :(
The spot has been “demolished” in the past, and was rebuilt into what it was up until this morning, so there’s no telling if it will make a comeback. But for the time being, we’d like to give all Brooklyn skaters of brown pants persuasion our condolences.