10 Iconic Skate Spots That No Longer Exist
A look at the best street spots for skateboarding that are gone forever.
Image via Complex Original
Skate spots come and go. Some get shut down almost instantaneously while others have endured through many generations and styles of skating. Some of those enduring spots have reached iconic status but have met their demise at the hands of progress, change, urban planning, and the law.
Some iconic skate spots like Love Park in Philadelphia have been shut down by police so hard that it feels like they're gone. Yet they still stand, waiting to be liberated and skated once again. Other iconic spots have been destroyed—bulldozed out of existence without even the possibility of a Christmas morning bum rush to get a trick.
Here we have ten spots that became icons to the skate world. While they lasted they were places people traveled to just to see what the spot was really like. Pros went to these spots to make a name for themselves or cement their legacy as the best of the best. They've been forever etched into the history of skateboarding through magazine covers and video parts—pour a little out for these 10 Iconic Skate Spots That No Longer Exist.
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10. ARCO Rails
Downtown LA's ARCO Building was home to a set of rails that only skateboarding's elite would step to. The square rails went down the center of a 9 stair and a 17 stair that could be skated in a line like Chad Muska did in Fulfil The Dream. In Transworld's Sight Unseen, Heath Kirchart took to a larger section with two 17 stair rails in a row and ended up in a ball at the bottom of the second set after a lipslide gone wrong. The nine stair saw much more action. It was Jamie Thomas's rail of choice when getting tech. He landed a Thrasher cover with a switch lipslide, and did a 180 50-50, both seen in his Dying To Live part. Eric Koston may have the best trick on the 9 stair with a nollie backside noseblunt seen at the end of his Yeah Right part. After several failed attempts to skate stop the rails are now removed completely.
Best Trick: Eric Koston, Nollie Backside noseblunt
9. MACBA Big Four
Barcelona has been a skate mecca for quite some time now. The central spot is MACBA, or Barcelona Museum Of Contemporary Art. There are ledges out front and there was a big four out back. Jamie Thomas got things going on the big four around 1998 with a mellon grab, half-cab, and a kickflip in his Misled Youth part. After that it became the spot for visiting pros to huck their go-to tricks. Danny Way even took a break from the vert ramp to spin a backside 360 down the famous four block in The DC Video. In the summer of 2009, a redesign of the area saw the big four become a big three with a slanted landing. People still skate there but the new three block lacks the size to keep attracting pros and their filmers.
Best Trick: Danny Way, Backside 360
8. Belmont Benches
Long Beach, Calif.
When LA skaters needed a ledge spot that wasn't made of fiberglass they headed to the Belmont Benches. Two long, low, concrete benches sat shaded by the Belmont Plaza Pool faculty. Their slanted backs with planters on top made them unique and easily identifiable in video. It was mostly a line spot for LA's ledge technicians, but a few notable single tricks went down before the spot got shut down. Eric Koston ended off his Mouse part with a kickflip backside nosegrind, nollie heel backside nosegrind, and, finally, a switch kickflip frontside crooked grind. Anthony Van Engelen went the considerable length of the whole bench with a switch backside nosegrind in his Rookie segment in Best Of 411VM #5. Today, most of the benches have been removed.
Best Trick: Eric Koston, Switch kickflip frontside crooked grind
7. Brooklyn Banks
New York City, N.Y.
The Brooklyn Banks is New York's most famous spot. It consisted of the small bank, the big bank, and three handrails and sets of stairs of various sizes. While the entire area is being used for storage until 2014, the small banks are gone forever. Their first major appearance was in Future Primitive from 1985. The early '90's saw plenty of tech wizardry on the banks, but going over the wall behind the bank was how you got the most attention. In a shared 1998 Transworld interview, Fred Gall landed the cover with a kickflip wallride while Josh Kalis switch backslide flipped the wall inside the magazine. The list of tricks over the wall is long, but Rob Welsh's switch 360 flip stands out as one of the dopest. When a fence went up on the wall Mike Vallely was the first to boost over the wall and new fence.
Best Trick: Josh Kalis, switch backside heelflip
The most iconic of all '90's street spots may be Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, better known as simlpy EMB. This brick plaza was surrounded by stairs, ledges, stages, and a cement curve known as The Wave. It was the epicenter of the San Francisco skate scene. EMB—Embarcadero's Most Blunted—was actually the name of a crew of well known skaters lead by James Kelch. The Gonz Gap was a gap at EMB that Mark Gonzalez first ollied in 1986, then kickflipped in 1993. Later, many other tricks went down on the gap including a backside heelflip by Gino Iannucci. Danny Gonzalez can lay claim to the final Gonz Gap trick with a kickflip melon over the gap and a fence right before the plaza's destruction in 2000. Mike Carroll's last line in his Goldfish part gives us a good sense of what the scene must have been like at the height of EMB's popularity.
Best Trick: Mark Gonzalez, Kickflip
5. San Dieguito High Ten Stair Rail
Almost every school yard in Southern California is perfect for skating thanks to massive expanses of asphalt and an abundance of fiberglass picnic tables and benches. San Dieguito High is no different but it also had a perfect ten stair in a hallway with a blue handrail down the middle. When skateboarding started moving toward bigger handrails, this spot lead the progression. Tom Penny went over the rail four different ways in High Five from Etnies. In 1997 Steve Berra fakie ollied the rail then did a fakie 50-50 in Transworld's Interface video. After just about everything had been done down this famous rail, Geoff Rowley took it to another level with his 270 lipslide in a line seen in Rowley’s 411VM Profile. Today, a new unskatable rail stands where so many epic tricks once went down.
Best Trick: Steve Berra, Fakie 50-50
4. Philadelphia City Hall
It was saw to construction crews destroy City Hall in The Philadelphia Experiment video from Caste. The official name was Dilworth Plaza. It was situated across from Love Park, and sessioned heavily in nearly every east coast video starting in the mid '90's. Smooth granite tiles made an ideal skate surface for hitting the curved benches, stairs, and rails all over this icon of east coast skateboarding. Ricky Oyola gave us a tour of the spot in the 1995 411VM Philadelphia Metrospective. City Hall even played host to the X-Games street competition in 2001 and 2002.
Best Trick: Eric Koston, Noseslide the curved rail
3. Carlsbad Gap
By all accounts, the Carlsbad Gap is no good. There are cracks and the landing is uphill. The ground is slick and the drop is unforgiving. Yet Carlsbad became an iconic spot because it was in the heart of professional skateboarding. There were plenty of pros to skate it and plenty of filmers and photographers around to document what went down. Kris Markovich set things off in 1994 with a kickflip. After that, many people did tricks there but Jeremy Wray did the most and the gnarliest. Throughout the years he frontside flipped it in a line and frontside 360ed it among other tricks in Second Hand Smoke, then he backside heelflipped it Element World Tour. Before the gap was destroyed in 2012 Transworld held the Last Times At Carlsbad High contest and a whole new set of rippers earned a spot in the Carlsbad Gap history book.
Best Trick: Jeremy Wray, Frontside 360
2. Hubba Hideout
Hubba Hideout is the only spot so iconic that the word hubba has become the generic term for any ledge down stairs. Wade Speyer's 1989 crooked grind at Hubba Hideout was the first of what would be many legendary tricks at the now gone ledge. Hubba quickly became a proving ground for anyone looking to make a name in skateboarding. For skaters in the '90's and early 2000's, a knowledge of who did what at hubba was essential. Brian Anderson and Carl Shipman both did notable front blunts, while Steve Olson did multiple insane 180 nosegrind variations in Foundation's Tentacles Of Destruction. The obvious top trick at Hubba is Eric Koston's backside noseblunt which can be seen on the cover of Transworld's 1998 photo annual and in The Hot Chocolate Tour.
Best Trick: Eric Koston, Backside Noseblunt
1. The Pit
Venice Beach, Calif.
The Pit in Venice Beach was built in the '60s and rose to iconic status in skateboarding as early as the '80's with guys like Christian Hosoi and The Daggers in Thrashin' skating a quarterpipe there. As skating changed, the quarterpipe disappeared and the ledges and tables at The Pit became the main attractions. The grafitti covered walls of The Pit made footage and photos pop. The Pit was featured heavily in Girl's Mouse from 1996, with Guy Mariano's switch shove-it crooked grind and Sean Sheffey's table to table ollie to open his part as the stand-out tricks.
Best Trick: Guy Mariano, Switch shove-it crooked grind