In the 1990s, Philadelphia’s Love Park was an international destination for skateboarders. In a way, the park gave the city its identity. Neighborhood residents felt safe at night with the constant activity in the park, business people ate lunch there, and parents were happy that their kids had found a safe recreational spot in which to socialize and exercise. ESPN’s X Games extreme sports tournament even made Philadelphia its home for two years because of the park.
However, in 2002, Mayor John Street enforced a skateboarding ban, and a municipal controversy led to the need for the Skater’s Defense Lobby, which rallied for skateboarder’s rights and advocated for the positive value of skateboarding as a sport. Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund was founded to bridge the divide between the city of Philadelphia and the needs of the skateboarders, and they were determined to build skateparks.
Whitehall Skatepark was founded in the Frankford section of Philadelphia in 2002 and repairs were made to the FDR Skatepark in South Philadelphia. In August 2003, Street came around and announced that the Schuylkill River Skatepark would be the future site of Paine’s Park. In the meantime, FPSF offered a training program for beginner skateboarders, known as Gear for Groms, and a leadership program that taught people about civic literacy. Through Charter High School’s Architecture & Design Program, people even learned how to design skateparks. It was this cultural contribution that made FPSF not only an organization that hoped to build 15 skateparks across West and South Philadelphia, but also a valuable component of Philadelphia’s society.
In 2009, FPSF started to rebuild Paine’s Skatepark in the center of Philadelphia, across from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Now, through their Kickstarter project, FPSF will make Paine’s Park an open space in which skateboarders—and people who don’t skate—can enjoy their neighborhood park together. With skateable art installations and cutting-edge design elements, it will have the potential to become a key recreational spot where interesting programming for Philadelphia can occur. They’ve already reached their fundraising goal, but the more you give, the more the park can be maintained and offer interesting events for the neighborhood, as well as continue classes for community members. Contribute to a project that will change not only the physical, but also the cultural landscape of Philadelphia.
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