Too much moxie breeds mayhem in the streets: skateboarding in NYC, 1965
February 28, 2012 11:43 AM   Subscribe

A two-foot piece of wood or plastic mounted on wheels, it yields to the skillful user the excitements of skiing or surfing. To the unskilled it gives the effect of having stepped on a banana peel while dashing down the back stairs. It is also a menace to live and even limb. Life magazine article on skateboarding in New York City, from the May 14, 1965 issue. Pictures from that article are now online in larger form (one-page view on another site). See also: The New York Skate Movie trailer on YouTube.

The photos were shot by Bill Eppride, a long-time photographer for Life (gallery | a personal reflection on the photographer).

The NY Skate Movie trailer was made by skate buddies who share an interest in Super 8 film, Coan Buddy Nichols and Rick Charnoski. Their film company is called Six Stair, and they have a Vimeo channel with 215 videos, including a bunch of skate films, some with old footage.

Bonus: Apple Juice, a "vintage" NYC skateboard documentary from 1990.

Bonus bonus: Riding through NYC, under a skateboard (via and via Gothamist).
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Some of those photos make me cringe. What are you... wait, barefoot? And no! Gods, no! You've got... three guys on that board, one laying down with his face inches from the cement?

When did I get this old?
posted by xedrik at 11:52 AM on February 28, 2012

Back in the day, adjustable steel Roller Skates as God intended were key to the construction of the skate board. (You see, kids, they came apart, see, and could be nailed/screwed to the board.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:53 AM on February 28, 2012

Yeah, I must say I always remembered the first skateboards as little and treacherous, but I had no idea that it was a thing to ride them barefoot. WTF ow ow ow
posted by RedEmma at 12:03 PM on February 28, 2012

Several cities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and California have already banned the skateboards on all public thoroughfares.

Skateboarding is not a crime! Yes it is. Thank your parents.
posted by klausman at 12:06 PM on February 28, 2012

Hey, my dad's homemade skateboard looks exactly like those. He would have been 14 in 1965, so just about the right age.

It still works, by the way. Maybe I'll dig it out and tool around Logan Square for ultimate hipster cred.
posted by theodolite at 12:07 PM on February 28, 2012

I see a lot of kids riding those classic small boards now, although they're more 70s style with polyurethane wheels and all. They look pretty fun.
posted by orme at 12:32 PM on February 28, 2012

For getting around I'm intrigued by the idea of freeline skates, but I'm not sure I'm insured enough to start that in my forties.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:51 PM on February 28, 2012

Now I remember why my knees hurt when I walk up hill.
posted by Elmore at 12:59 PM on February 28, 2012

Oh how can I now resist the urge to find and collect old Life issues?
posted by mumimor at 1:32 PM on February 28, 2012

Has anyone in the history of ever actually slipped on a banana peel?
posted by yoink at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2012

mumimor: Oh how can I now resist the urge to find and collect old Life issues?

By embracing the digital Google archives? They are awesome, and searchable, though you lose some of the detail that would be available to you if you had a print edition in your hands.

yoink: Has anyone in the history of ever actually slipped on a banana peel?

This video suggests yes, while the more critical Mythbusters say no. But you could say the former was going for a slip, while the latter were trying to replicate the slapstick fall (jump to the 1 minute mark if you're impatient), which may yet be possible.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:24 PM on February 28, 2012

I've almost made them respectable.
posted by ChuqD at 2:40 PM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Deathbowl to Downtown, The Evolution of Skateboarding in New York City, took us almost 3 years to make. We had to search through dusty archives, make thousands of phone calls, scans countless photos and look through a million hours of old footage.
Chloe Sevigny narrates.

The Souls Artists were the original grafitti crew from the Upper West Side of Manhattan who spawned New York's first skate crew in the 70's called Zoo York. This segment is a good history lesson about what the city was like back in the day.

According to Johnny Crunch, who appears at the beginning of the film, about the link in the original post: "This is a 2006 trailer for the 2008 feature film "Deathbowl to Downtown," which starts off with yours truly discussing the history of the Soul Artists of Zoo York, followed by FU-2, HAZE, ZEPH and Andy Kessler, followed by other interviews. Great documentary of NYC skateboarding....It's dedicated "In Memory of Andy Kessler"
posted by nickyskye at 5:09 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the post, but clay wheels and bare feet ow ow ow ow ow ow ow
posted by gamera at 6:34 PM on February 28, 2012 flavored Catsup
posted by Jibuzaemon at 9:19 PM on February 28, 2012

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