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. Today, FDR is recognized throughout the world as a landmark in the skateboarding community. It has been host to heroes, villains, triumph, and tragedy…” – Josh Marcinizyn, excerpt from the intro to the book FDR SKATEPARK: A Visual History
In early ’90s Philadelphia, skaters would gather around City Hall and across the street at LOVE Park, which holds a special place in skateboarding lore akin to Brooklyn Banks in New York or Embarcadero in San Francisco. In 1996, the City of Philadelphia moved to clean up downtown, passing a series of measures to “cleanse” LOVE Park of vagrants and skaters alike. In return, the city built a skatepark five miles south in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park underneath the Interstate 95 overpass.
“We got all stoked, ‘Yeah, a concrete park!’ We went there, and all there was was a ledge and two pyramids.” – Matt Yula, from TWS
The new park was a joke and virtually unskateable; however, the skateboarders would gradually rectify the situation by modifying the space themselves. For the last fifteen years, they’ve turned FDR skatepark into a perpetual construction site. As of now, the City of Philadelphia is not stopping any further expansion or use of the park, allowing the skateboarders to continue creating a public park for themselves in an unused and overlooked area, much like many other cities are attempting to do at this moment.
“I think the park shows how creative this generation is. It’s fighting the old generation where we just need to do it, we don’t need to ask. We need to make what we want to make the world a better place.” – Carlos Biaza, from TWS
You can find more about the history of the park in a book FDR Skatepark: A Visual History. As the entire park has been funded out of pocket by dedicated locals, all proceeds from the book will be donated to further expand the park´s illusive boundaries.
© Ryan Gee, via “FDR Skatepark: A Visual History“