Monday, July 31, 2017
This week Vert Is Dead takes a haphazard look at a few of the spots I grew up skateboarding at around my town.
I figure the local college is a good place to start. The campus features the usual variety of stairs, ledges, rails, and other assorted skateable architecture. More than a few things have changed over the years due to construction and renovation, but this plaza designed by I.M. Pei has remained relatively unchanged. The long standing rumor is that Pei had created this layout for a desert climate and simply used the plans when he got the contract for work in the New York State University system. He's designed buildings for other colleges and he repeats some of the same elements as found here. Some of the buildings and surrounding landscapes have taken a beating from the cold and snowy winters we get.
There have been varying degrees of legality regarding skateboarding at the college over the years. The current policy is that students can skate for transportation purposes only. They sell cruiser boards at the bookstore so my running joke is that every freshman is issued a little plastic skateboard upon matriculation. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was hit or miss. Some days the university fuzz would give you the boot and other days you would get in a full session without hassle. The glory days of the college were from 1998 to 1999 when skateboarding was LEGAL on campus. A few of the students put in the hard work with the administration to secure the right to roll. I was away at graduate school at this time so I don't know the finer points of the deal. I just know that I took advantage of it when I was home on breaks.
This plaza was pretty functional and gave you a variety of things to skate. I'd usually start a line by ollieing off either three or four of the stairs, then grind the curved ledge of the amphitheater, and circle back around to hit the bottom step. That step was waxed, along with a few sections on the curved ledge. You could also get tricks off the ends of the ledges. There is a lot of flatground, too.
I don't really remember any specific highlights from this spot. It was always a fun time with a bunch of people skating since you could cruise around with a number of different obstacles in one place. I liked the stairs because you could get warmed up on two stairs and progress up. There used to be more runway with only one handrail, but a recent remodel doubled the rail count and took away some of the space. I think my friends Paul and Pat both 50-50'd the ledge on the left by the long set of stairs in the top photo. They said it took a lot of wax and they kept having to duck to avoid the tree that was smaller twenty years ago. My friend Mike would bust out these killer wallrides, too. Finally, this spot was featured in a local cable access commercial for Jolt Cola that a few of my friends skated in. I imagine the ad was a project for somebody studying TV production.
I haven't skated the college in ages and I'm guessing the bust factor is fairly high for non-students. There are security cameras everywhere now and that was something that wasn't there back in the 1990s. Good luck if you happen upon the place. And I don't know you if you end up needing bail money.