“we’re about good vibes and good times”

An easy ride on Denver’ s Light Rail can kickflip you right into the Denver Skate Park, one of the country’s premier skate parks, nestled on the corner of Little Raven and 19th Street. Located in the heart of the 303, the half-pipes and rails are the veins and the skaters are the blood that keepsDenver’s skate culture pumping.

The Heart & the History

Although California’s surfers decided to put wheels on their surf boards in the 1950’s, skateboarding reached its peak in the 1960’s. 1980 came and the anti-establishment movement carried over into the 1990’s, thus, skateboarding really began to grind its way into the alternative scene. After the first-ever X-Games in 1995, locals around Denver, a city that is no stranger to trends outside the mainstream, (see, Colorado’s Recreational Marijuana Lawsmodern cheeseburgers and the first and only rejection of an invitation to host the Olympics) took up plans to establish their own skate park in 1997.

“This whole skate park started in 1997 where we battled with the City Council to bring in a skate park because we were tired of being ticketed and friggin’ persecuted for our sport that we all love and enjoy.”

Skate 24
A local skater practicing his “ollie” on top of one of the many ramps in the park. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

 

By the early 2000’s they had succeeded and the Denver Skate Park was up and running for people of all skill-sets, ages and genders.

Sometimes called “the flagship of all Colorado skate parks,” the Denver Skate Park, a prized monument by skaters around the nation, is in the heart of Downtown and overlooks Coors Field and the Denver skyline. The serenity of the view in combination with the concentrated intensity of the atmosphere culminate this park’s vibes that are conducive to the makings of enhanced surroundings and enhanced skill levels with unfaltering support from other–sometimes even unknown–fellow skate park-goers.

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After weeks of inclimate skating weather in Denver, a 303-based skateboarder got to the Denver Skate Park for an hours-long skate session. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

Decks with Depth & Diversity

With skaters around the Denver Skate Park representing a wide-array of ages, genders, sexualities and skate styles, this park is one of the largest and far-reaching in the nation for a reason. Those around the park go by and prefer to be referred to by their nicknames like, “Peanut,” or “Clover” that are representative of their skating style and other personality traits. Each of the skaters interviewed, ranging in age (from 7 years old to 40 years old), gender and skill-set admired the cohesive and supportive culture that the Denver Skate Park offers.

Skate 19
Three young skater girls grab their boards and some snacks to take a break from practicing new tricks. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

“Peanut” is the daughter of an avid and long-time local skater that fought and won against the City of Denver Parks and Recreation Department for this park and said, “We get to do anything at the skate park… we can do anything. There’s no rule about boys [in one] part and girls [in the other] part.”

Easy & Eco

Only a 20-minute ride from the the University Station right across from the University of Denver, skaters and fans can easily hop on the eco-friendly light rail to the Union Station off of the E-line. Then, the park is an easy walk or roll over: about a quarter mile. A local that goes by “Quicker,” says “it’s a quick little ride down Little Raven.”  The Denver Skate Park is easy to get to and is a great option for skaters concerned about their carbon footprint.

Skate 22
A lifelong skateboarder continues to practice tricks, having skated at dozens of parks before trying his tricks at the Denver Skate Park. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

Directions to Denver Skate Park

  1. Get your RTD pass, your deck and hop on the E-Line toward Union Station
  2. Get off at Union Station, about a 20-minute ride from the University Station
  3. Walk towards 18th Street
  4. Turn right onto Bassett Street
  5. Turn right onto 19th Street
  6. Walk/ride a couple feet and you’ve arrived at the Denver Skate Park

After observing the interactions of parents, teens, kids, twenty-somethings and more at the Denver Skate Park, the collective culture of friendliness, good times, development of skills and overall acceptance and encouragement, this public work is a hidden gem, a prized possession unbeknownst to most in the 80202.

Notes: All persons interviewed declined to provide their legal names out of reverence to skate culture, fear of persecution and privacy protection

A special thanks goes to Anna Bernard, a talented fellow Online & Visual Journalism classmate, for her help and contributions throughout the entirety of this project.

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