There may not be a bigger place in the skating world than Portland, Oregon. It is the mecca for skaters with many coming from all over the world to skate in one of our many parks. It started with a vision and a lot of hard work under the Burnside Bridge and spread to bowls throughout the inner city and the burbs and recently to the newly opened park in Estacada.
The sport has come a long way from the days of a plank of wood mounted on a pair old metal skates to the fancy and often colorfully decorated boards of today. Cal’s, one of the oldest running skate board shops( since 1976) is right here in Portland. I had the pleasure of meeting its owner, Howard, and a couple of the employees. Step into the shop and you are stepping back in time looking at old boards mounted high on the walls in a place of honor. Then have a look around and see the newest in skate board design. While I was there a guy came in with his young son to get him equipped with his first board.
The guru of skate board design and construction is Mark Scott. I ran into him and his dog Rusty making repairs at the Tigard park. When a bunch of skaters wanted a place to skate he got a group of guys together and made the holy grail of parks a reality. I believe it was the first park in Portland and it sits under the Burnside Bridge making it one of the few places you can skate and stay out of the rain. Mark now owns and runs Dreamland Skateparks and builds parks all over the world. His parks are beautiful pieces of art and skaters travel from all corners of the world to skate in one of his creations.
But what makes the skating community is the skaters themselves and working on this assignment I met quite a few.
Let me introduce you to the two Hayden boys. I met them at Pier Park in North Portland. Milo is 8 years old, and his brother Miles, 3. You’ll find them skating their way through Portland on any day of the week. They’ve only been skating about a year but they have hopes of one day being sponsored and skating in competitions all over the world. They have a good start and have placed well in several local contests.
Miles can already ‘drop the bowl’ and gets encouragement from the older sponsored skaters. The boys are inseparable and let loose with a Lomo Spinner 360 they may be skating photographers as well.
In every park I visited I met friendly skaters, from the guys at Estacada who were using their day off to skate the new park to the kids who said skating was better than sitting indoors in front of a computer. The question, “why do you skate?” met with varied responses: “it’s great exercise”; “it keeps me off the street”; “we meet lots of people”, and “it’s just fun.” The most interesting response came from the Navy guy who was on leave, “It’s safer than being out on a destroyer”.
I’d love to profile every park in the Portland Metro area in greater detail because I took hundreds of photos working on this assignment and I plan to continue with it. However if there is one thought I’d like to leave you with it’s this: these skaters in Portland are a bunch of nice people, out enjoying themselves, honing their sport and loving it.