Philly has long been a hot spot for skateboarding. While we have lost some (Love Park), we still have FDR Park as well as lots of small parks, and if all goes well, we will have Paine's Park, our own world-class skatepark along the Schuylkill river before long.
In fact, in its heyday, skaters from all over made the journey to Philadelphia's famous (unofficial) skate park, Love Park (officially JFK Plaza). They came to thrash on its ramps, ledges, and stairs in its prime setting smack in the center of the city just across the street from City Hall. Featured in practically every skate magazine and frequented by pro and semi-pro skaters, Love Park was internationally recognized.
And then, for anyone who doesn't remember the crushing blow to skaters and skater-lovers, city government stepped in and ruined everything. In response to damage complaints and other alleged nuisances, one of Philadelphia's major recreational assets that made it so popular with youth came to an end. Despite protests, the city closed Love Park to skaters in 2002 so suits on their lunch breaks could eat in peace.
Ever since, skaters have been relegated to the only remaining large-scale skateboarding area in the city, FDR Park. Located on Pattison Avenue and Tuscany Drives, it's within walking (or rolling) distance to the Broad Street Subway Line. Philly's skate culture lives on in the shade of the raised highway, I-95, above.
Fishbowls, ramps, innovative skate structures, and a 30-foot half pipe make this skate park perfectly nice and useful to many local skateboarders, but the location leaves something to be desired. Mostly because it's completely separate from the rest of the city, unlike prominent Love Park.
But here comes the good news: There is (hopefully) going to be a happy ending to this story. Plans have been underway since 2003 for a brand-new skate park in an outstanding location. The proposed Paine's Park will occupy a 2.5-acre stretch along the Schuylkill River with the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a backdrop.
The design plans incorporate interesting skate-friendly surfaces with art and green space with the hopes of attracting the general public to share the space with the skateboarders. While additional funds are needed, the city is getting closer to having the world-class skate park that skaters have been waiting for since the loss of LOVE Park. A $1 million dollar commitment from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation was a big help, but it is going to take a bit more to get this park up and running.
Franklin Paine's Skatepark Fund is always looking for people to get involved and support the cause with a donation or other help, so if you are a skate lover and have some ideas, money, or time, contact them to see how you can help make this skate park a reality.