FDR Skatepark // A Visual History

Last year I was asked to contribute to a book that was in the works to “…visually document FDR skatepark… it’s history… it’s culture… it’s attitude. Youknowhatimean?” Well, I haven’t been to the skatepark in a couple years, but I was pretty involved during it’s creation and growth during the 90’s and early 2000’s. I never really skated it much, but lots of my friends did, (and still do! yeah 50 year old Bud Baum!) and I was usually down there, trying to help however I could. (once hosted a planning meeting/negotiation in my apartment during an especially contentious period of the park’s early first growth spurt.)

Anyway, what I lacked in actually skating, I like to think I made up for in shooting pics. (I know, I know, Freddy, it’s not the same thing, but let me have this! :-) I have boxes and boxes of pictures. Pictures of both FDR skatepark’s birth and at least half dozen years of it’s development. And also from that era, I have probably equal amounts of pictures of a private skate warehouse (Props to Danny Dansak!) that was, alas, not destined to live as long and as strong as FDR skatepark. (It was converted to, eek! luxury studio condos a bunch of years back) So anyway, it was a big task to gather all the thousands of photos, sort through them all… but I figured FDR makes for a great story, and if I didn’t even try, I knew I’d kick myself later. So in between all the craziness of my wife being pregnant and all the nesting activities that come along with that, I found time to gather all my skate photo stuff together and go through it with a couple of the book’s authors. We came up with some selects, and then I had to find the negatives, which was probably the hardest part of the whole effort. (none of the pictures, negatives, and their envelopes seemed to have retained any proper associations over the years) But all that said, it’s all done, and last week THE BOOK CAME OUT!! Below is a description of the book, and below that are my pics from the book!

FDR Skatepark: A Visual History
FDR Skatepark began its life in 1996 with a few small obstacles built by the City of Philadelphia in an attempt to meet the needs of a growing community. In true D-I-Y fashion, local skaters soon gathered their resources and began the ongoing construction of a space of their own design. As the world s largest D-I-Y skateboard park, today FDR is recognized throughout the world as a landmark in the skateboarding community. A photographic history of FDR, this book contains work from more than 25 contributors, from amateurs with disposable cameras to professional photographers. Side by side with the actual skateboarding are photos of wildfires, box cutter wounds, riot police, and drunks shooting sewer rats. Complete with oral histories gathered from park locals, this one-of-a-kind record documents the legend and landscape of the past fifteen years under the bridge.”

Authors: Nicholas Orso, Phil Jackson, Scott Kmiec + various contributors

Cover of the book, FDR Skatepark: A Visual History.
This is the cover. I totally didn’t take this shot of Joey P trying a sweeper… but I figured it would be good to include just the same.

This is my little out-of-focus pic of the birth of FDR's first skater-built construction, the CIA pocket. They blew it up to a full two-page spread! As far as I know, and the authors could figure, this is the earliest picture of skater built construction at FDR.
This is my little out-of-focus pic of the birth of FDR’s first skater-built construction, the CIA pocket. They blew it up to a full two-page spread! As far as I know, and the authors could figure, this is the earliest picture of skater built construction at FDR. (I wish I’d realized how out of focus it was when I took it, but this was before DSLRs, and I didn’t have a wide-angle lens back then, and had to get pretty far away to get it all in… blah, blah, excuses, excuses. It is what it is.)

FDR Skatepark is famous for it's 4th of July party... horizontal fireworks were a predictable mainstay right from the beginning. This shot is probably from 1997.
FDR Skatepark is famous for it’s 4th of July party… horizontal fireworks were a predictable mainstay right from the beginning. This shot is probably from 1997.

This shot is from the same 1997 4th of July party. Bands and punk rock are a staple of FDR 4th of July celebrations, along with a whole lot of beer, and more kooks than you can shake a stick at. You never know exactly what will go down at these 4th of July jams.
This shot is from the same 1997 4th of July party. Bands and punk rock are a staple of FDR 4th of July celebrations, along with a whole lot of beer, and more kooks than you can shake a stick at. You never know exactly what will go down at these 4th of July jams.

I don't remember exactly what is going on in this pic, but if I had to guess, Daily Dave of probably telling Mr. Rogers how it's gonna be, and Carlos & Wes seem to be getting a kick out of the interaction... as Fernando looks pretty fed up with the whole process.  :-)
I don’t remember exactly what is going on in this pic, but if I had to guess, Daily Dave of probably telling Mr. Rogers how it’s gonna be, and Carlos & Wes seem to be getting a kick out of the interaction… as Fernando looks pretty fed up with the whole process. :-)

Darren Menditto blasting some head-high air, with seeming ease! And George Draguns holding onto an inverted view of the world, which he is rightfully proud to do.
Darren Menditto blasting some head-high air, with seeming ease! And George Draguns holding onto an inverted view of the world, which he rightfully is proud to do.

If I find time, I may post more pics that didn’t make the cut for the book. Look for that sometime around Marchtember Oneteenth.

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2 Comments

your mother

December 6th, 2014

“trying” a sweeper? Real cool Rizza, Fernando told you to write that didn’t he. That’s a make!

Rizza

December 6th, 2014

Hahaha, well… I may have picked up that phrasing from listening to the grumpy old man… Yes.

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