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Venice Skate Park Afternoon

Brendon Hayward


Behind the Shot

In the 1950s, California surfers began to attach roller skate wheels to small wooden replicas of long-board surfboards to “sidewalk surf” on the streets around Venice Beach. As the novelty spread in-land, sidewalk surfers began to rival the number of ocean surfers. Between the 1950s and the early 1970s, little changed in the world of sidewalk surfing—until a literal reinvention of the wheel in 1973 changed everything. The introduction of urethane wheels improved performance on asphalt and cement, which in turn ushered in faster rides and more control. The era of what we consider modern skateboarding began.

A devastating drought-hit Southern California in 1976. City leaders across Southern California ordered that no swimming pools could be filled, leaving tens of thousands of backyard pools across Southern California dry. No one knows exactly who the first person to drop into an empty pool was, but Venice’s Z-Boys were the first to be recognized for the pioneering aerial tricks associated with “bowl” skateboarding.