Philadelphia’s iconic Love Park has long been a mecca for skateboarding due to the prevalence of granite ledges, staircases and park benches for skaters to enjoy.
Despite this fact, skateboarding was banned within the park over 10 years ago, but last Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney announced that ban would be lifted for five days prior to the demolition of the park. As such, skateboarders flocked to the park to celebrate the final days of a skate locale they loved so dearly.
“The ledges are perfect — perfect height, length. There are so many different ones. The curve ledges — I mean, it was almost like it was designed for skateboarding, but it wasn’t,” local skateboarder Jeff Lutezo told NPR.
“It was our home, you know? It was just — we would be here all night. Sometimes I slept here, you know? For kids, nobody cared. We could do whatever we wanted. We had barbecues here.”
Starting on Wednesday, the park will be closed off to the public for 12 to 16 months for renovations that will remove many of the favorite features that skateboarders cherish, replacing much of the granite and concrete sections of the park with grass that will, essentially, force the skateboarders out.
“This is, like, one of the capitals of the world for skateboarding,” Mayor Kenney told Philly.com about the decision to remove the ban. “There’s a certain culture of the Robert Indiana statue and this space … so we’re going to allow folks to come back and experience this place one more time before it goes under construction.”
“It was really important to do something to kind of mitigate against the fact that this most iconic park was being closed,” Jesse Rendell, a skateboarder and the son of former Governor Ed Rendell continued to Philly.com. “It’s incredibly hard for the lay person to understand, but it is the equivalent to one of the seven wonders of the world to skateboarders.”
And perhaps unsurprisingly, not all skateboarders took the destruction of the park lightly. According to multiple reports, in the days since opening Love Park to skateboarding, copious amounts of graffiti appeared throughout the park.
“Skaters definitely did this,” a local skater told Philadelphia’s ABC6. “They’re just trying to express themselves and say they don’t want this pretty much. It’s Love Park, it’s something that you have to grow up skating to understand how much it means to people.”
For their part, the mayor’s office seemed unsurprised that the graffiti appeared after skaters were allowed back in.
“We were prepared for something like this to happen when we opened it up to skaters,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
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