Above video: LOVE Park Documentary from ON Video Magazine (2004)
It's actually official — skateboarding has been legalised in Philadelphia's LOVE Park.
Unfortunately, the park is also being torn down in 5 days.
While it might seem like a complete cop-out to some, newly elected Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney has announced that, before it's torn down and remodelled on February 15th, Philadelphia's LOVE Park will be legally skateable for the first time in almost two decades. In a statement released on Instagram, the mayor states:
"I want to recognise the importance of this park to skaters and skateboarding. We plan to honour the site's history in two ways. The existing granite at LOVE Park will be donated to the Franlin Paine Skatepark Fund to be used in future parks. And, as of today, I am officially authorizing skating in LOVE Park until the park closes for renovations on February 15."
After years of hostile battles with police and security at the sacred spot, this news comes as somewhat a surprise. And while many think it's a lame attempt for the city to get some credibility back amongst skaters after decades of disrespect towards them, it can't be denied that this is a pretty cool scenario. The Berrics has already offered $5,000 to the best trick done at LOVE over the next 5 days, while there's rumours that Thrasher are planning a third Bust or Bail contest to be held at LOVE this weekend. Strap yourselves in, it's going to get wild...
In the meantime, we've picked out 5 memorable clips and video parts from several different generations of skateboarding at LOVE Park. There's obviously too many amazing videos for this list to please everyone, but these clips each represent a significant time at LOVE over the years.
While LOVE Park had been skated as early as 1986/87, Dan Wolfe's videos were the first that really put the quintessential Philly destination on America's skateboarding map. His earliest work featured the likes of Ricky Oyola, Fred Gall and Matt Reason as they laid the foundation for the LOVE Park scene in the early-mid 90s, and Eastern Exposure Zero captured the essense of the spot through nothing but raw skateboarding. Dan recently uploaded the 8-minute skateboarding goldmine to YouTube in glorious 60fps HD, and it's well worth another watch. VHS footage never looked so fine.
Skateboarders had been cruising LOVE for the best part of a decade by the time Stevie Williams dropped his part in TWS's The Reason, but this was probably the first part that really showcased the potential of the plaza in its fullest. Stevie at LOVE in his peak was clearly a sight to behold — endless lines, constant bangers, groundbreaking ledge tricks and the kind of consistency we've never seen since. If there's one part that sums up LOVE, this is the one. Every clip in this video part was filmed on its hallowed turf.
Josh Kalis will obviously go down in history as one of LOVE Park's finest, and his part in DC's first full length video is one of the major reasons for that. Kalis had already made his mark on Philly by this point, but his creative approach to skating LOVE — namely popping the tiles and skating over trash bins — kicked off a trend that continues to this day. This was filmed during a time when the future of the park was uncertain, and when skateboarding had been well and truly outlawed at LOVE, so it also gave a sense of hope to anyone who dreamt of cruising through its marble ground. The ending switch heel from this part is forever etched in the brains of skateboarders worldwide.
The mid-late 2000s were tough times for LOVE Park. Increased police, security, and skate-stopping methods meant that footage from the skate mecca was increasingly rare. Ishod's clips from Since Day One reminded us that Philly was still somewhat skateable, but Mark Suciu's Sabotage 3 part confirmed that LOVE Park was right back on the map. Mark's endless night lines were reminiscent of Stevie Williams in the early days, and daytime LOVE footage, the ultimate rarity, was unbelievably refreshing. This is the part that cemented Suciu as one of skateboarding's new favourites, and that's mostly thanks to the LOVE Park wizardry thrown down within.
Too many incredible tricks have gone down the LOVE fountain gap over the last 20 years, and to leave out any of them would be cruel. So the fifth video on the list is this compilation featuring the best of the LOVE gap — from Vinnie Ponte's first ollie in 1993, to Brian Wenning's switch backside 180, to Chris Cole's annihilation from In Bloom, and Ishod Wair's recent tricks, this features the lot.
We're expecting a slew of new fountain tricks to drop in the coming days, and we'll keep you posted on anything LOVE Park related in the meantime. The park's influence on skateboarders, tricks, and skateparks worldwide cannot be unerestimated. The modern street plaza has LOVE Park to thank, as does the modern street skateboarder. Let's send if off with a bang.
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