The 9 global spots you have to skate
Many things can make a spot legendary. It could be an architectural extravaganza, the smoothness of the ground, the perfect height of the ledges, the fresh red paint on the curb or the history of the location — but all famed spots have one thing in common: There's always a skater instantly associated with it.
Whether it's Andrew Reynolds and the Bercy five, Chris Miller in the Combi Pool, Tom Penny at Radlands or Flo Marfaing at Le Dôme, it always comes down to small crews of skaters, photographers and filmers who brought these spots to the pages of your favorite magazine or video. These individuals breath life into the otherwise inanimate, cementing these architectural treats into the annals of skate lore for eternity.
Without further adieu, here's our list of iconic spots that represent a spread of skateboarding both geographically and culturally. From British brutalism to the American kitsch, these different terrains promise to leave you with lasting memories after each and every session.
The mother of all DIYs: Burnside, Portland
The mother of all DIYs. Back in 1990, Mark 'Red' Scott, Sage Bolyard, Bret Taylor and their crew started building a bank against the existing wall underneath Burnside bridge in Portland, Oregon. The main motivation behind the project was to have a dry place to skate for the rainy days. Portland is a very nice city, but receives a lot of water from the skies!
From then until now, the spot has continued evolving and is now the symbol of the strong ‘do it yourself’ movement in skateboarding. It's completely unavoidable if you're a skater visiting Oregon. Fun tip! Make sure to get up the wall there and see for yourself what Germ's coffin drop-in looks like first hand. Do yourself a favor and don't try it, though...
Scene it all before: Southbank, London
The undercroft of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, part of a culture and arts institute on the south bank of the River Thames in London, has been skated since the 1960s and has seen generations of skaters grace its banks and stairs.
This iconic spot played a massive part in skateboarding's evolution in the UK and, when it was threatened with being removed several years ago, an organized community of local skaters fought a successful campaign to save this landmark spot. With the London mayor intervening to side with the skateboarding 'remain' campaign, the spot was secured for devotees from around the world to enjoy for the unforeseeable future.
Roots and culture: Big O, Montreal, Canada
Here's another epic spot with an even more epic story behind it. In 1976, the city of Montreal hosted the summer Olympic Games and needed a brand-new stadium. As part of the infrastructure development, they built a crowd entrance tunnel, not knowing at the time that it would become an iconic location for skaters for generations to come. It was in the mid 1980s that skaters started to hit the rounded tunnel walls: Barry Walsh and Marc Tison haven't left since and even wrote a book about it back in 2006: "Pipe Fiends: A Visual Overdose of Canada's Most Infamous Skate Spot."
When, in 2011, the city had to renovate the stadium, the tunnel wasn't part of the new plan and was about to be turned to rubble. Walsh and Tison, however, were determined to preserve Montreal's best skate playground and, after showcasing the book to the mayor and championing the significance of this otherwise unimportant architectural piece to a whole generation of skaters worldwide, the spot was dug out and moved 25m away to preserve it for future generations.
Know the ledge: MACBA, Barcelona, Spain
There was no way MACBA wouldn't make this list: the ledges, the blocks, the flat ground (which some claim gives your ollies more pop) has absolutely become one of modern skateboarding’s landmark spots.The symbol of European skateboarding's capital city, Barcelona, many international skate arrivals still hit MACBA first thing when they touch down to take the scene's temperature.
The family affair: Kona Skatepark, Jacksonville
If you grew up skating in the 2000s, chances are you’ll recognize Kona skatepark from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 video game. Kona is known for being the oldest privately-owned skatepark in the world still in operation, thanks to the Ramos family. It just celebrated its 40th anniversary last June. You’ll find everything you need terrain-wise at Kona, from the vert ramp and street course to the backyard pool replica. But what makes Kona iconic and unique is its massive, wide-open snake run and tombstone which survive as one of the last living connections to skateboarding’s golden era of suntans, knee socks and headbands.
This is the skatepark that time forgot, home to generations of skateboarders often from the same families. Absolutely put it on your list of must-shreds and find out for yourself just how gnarly the tombstone remains, whatever generation of skateboarding you belong to.
Get wavy in China: Red Ribbon, Guangzhou, China
Guangzhou is skate heaven on Earth. Block after seemingly endless block of marble plazas, hubbas and rails combined with affordable accommodation and great public transit make Guangzhou one of skateboarding’s most sought-after cities. Outside of Guangzhou city centre lies one of the most unique skateboarding spots to occur in the wild: the Red Ribbon.
Nestled in the middle of a bustling park lies this huge sculpture, shaped like a ribbon blowing in the wind. Holes throughout the ribbon prevent most of it from being skated except, believe it or not, the best part! The placement of the holes creates a perfect quarter pipe with a unique lip at the top where skaters have come from around the globe to give it their best shot. What have you got for it?
The loveshack: Pink Motel pool, Los Angeles
The Pink Motel pool was first introduced to skateboarders of the world in Powell-Peralta's 1987 video "The Search for Animal Chin."The fish-shaped bowl offers perfect 10 feet transitions in the deep end and has seen its fair share of ripping through the years. Built in 1946, the motel has been seen in many movies and photoshoots. After it ceased operating as a motel, the pool was drained and became a skateboarder's playground.
The bowl has been resurfaced recently and hosts the annual Pink Motel Pool Party. If by any chance your next skate trip takes you to California, note that the pool can be rented for a session. So, pull a crew together and get the party started!
Surface value: Le Dôme, Paris, France
France's capital has been the place to be for quite a bit of time now, thanks to the newly rebuilt Place de la République and the Bloby's crew, who make Parisian skateboarding so hot right now. But Le Dôme — or Le Palais de Tokyo (to use its official name) — is one of the must-skate spots when you visit.
The three-flat-three, the marble ground and the infamous hubbas first skated by Marc Haziza many moons ago all make this place unique.Visit, acknowledge the very real height of those same hubbas made famous by Florentin Marfaing and more recently Eniz Fazliov, and feel free to absorb some of the vast, entrancing architecture. Then, when you're all skated out, check out the modern art museum.
Having a bubble: Landhausplatz, Innsbruck, Austria
Landhausplatz is one of those spots that makes you go, "Damn, the architect that designed this must skate." Located in the heart of Innsbruck, Austria, the plaza was rebuilt a few years ago, mixing ancient buildings and a more modern approach to landscaping, with flowing forms across the plaza.The result is a perfect, transitioned playground for skateboarders, who quickly embraced the plaza and made it theirs. Of course, not everyone was happy about it and quickly things got complicated, with skaters ending up being banned.
The spot was so ideal that there was no way keep them away for too long, so both parties — the city on one side, and the skaters led by Manuel Margreiter on the other — met to build an agreement which would make everyone happy.
Now, some parts of the plaza are skate-friendly, and some other parts, like the historical building stairs are skater-free. A map of the spot explaining the rules and regulations of the plaza has even been produced. So, read up upon arrival and get to skating!