Many myths and urban legends abound concerning the origin of skateboarding so what is the real truth’? Sure scooters with a vertical bar and handles have been around since the early 1900′s, but skateboards are a different street toy.
No one really knows when the first person put wheels (usually roller skate wheels) to a board and skated down the sidewalk or street in front of their home. We do know, however, the first “Roller Derby Skateboard”, considered the first “official” (manufactured) skateboard came on the American scene in 1959. Then in 1962, the Hobie Alter surf board manufacturer began making “street surfer” boards, as they were popularly called, with a surfer design that enhanced the sales appeal of street toy.
Early homemade versions of the modern sleek skateboard were clumsy thick two by four boards made many times with metal wheels taken from roller skates and nailed or screwed on to the bottom side of the thick plank.
The new manufactured skateboards, of the 1960s, were wider and thinner double duty ply board, which allowed for better maneuvering when riding down the sidewalk. These new skateboards also had a new type of wheel made of clay. Unfortunately these new wheels were not very strong or long lasting and did not grip concrete or asphalt surfaces well, but they worked better than metal roller skate rollers.
Many serious accidents began to happen across America from the skateboarding phenomenon that captured kid’s interest. The speed and ability to fly through the air like Evil Knievel seized the imagination of many kids who owned or wanted skateboards. The popularity of the new “toy” soared and so did accidents and injuries.
A movement occurred across America, where towns and cities began passing ordinances to ban skateboarding on their streets and sidewalks and parents began to stop buying the popular contrivance. The “sidewalk surfing” craze, as it came to be called faded as a trendy exciting kid’s activity.
The skateboard made a comeback in the 1970′s with the invention of polyurethane wheels instead of clay. Manufacturer “Road Rider” introduced the first precision bearing for skateboards in 1975 and along with new board designs skateboarding became a big industry. A new American sport and venue was given birth to! Amateur skateboard teams that have become legends in our present time began to rise up; Hobie Team and Z-Boys are a couple of the more famous.
Southern California became the unofficial “home” of the center of the American Skateboarding arena in the late 1970′s when people drained their pools (due to the drought) and kids began using the pools as an adventurous skateboard sites. This is where the high riding, sky popping and air riding board tricks are said to have begun. This style of skateboarding led to the opening of skateboarding parks, which in turn led to more dangerous and serious skater injuries. Almost all the skateboard parks were closed in the early 1908′s due to huge liability costs from skater injuries.
The 1960′s craze was not to go away, though, as the “skate culture” took on a life of its own across America. Skateboard companies began to promote and sponsor professional teams and national competitions across the country. Amazingly, skateboards became a big business with refined aerodynamic boards and smaller, harder faster wheels. Daring athletic teens began to incorporate stuntman-like riding styles with tricks like the “Ollie”, “kick flips”, “grinds and slides”, aerials and “lip tricks”
Contributing to urban renewal projects and social programs keeping kids off the streets and out of gangs, the skateboard industry launched a national multi-million dollar 21st century bound sport venue called the Extreme Games in 1995. Today this sporting event is known as the X-Games and seen around the world with international TV coverage. Tony Hawk, Andy MacDonald and Tony Alva are legendary skaters who have become synonymous with the sport’.
Most young kids and teens are very familiar with Tony Hawk’s series of “Professional Skater” video games and many skater products today have endorsements by the famous riders of modern skateboard history. The fad now a fully accepted venue of American sports has its own vernacular, slang, sub-culture, multi-million dollar business revenue and fan base. Skateboarding seems to continue to grow in interest, acceptance and popularity with each generation around the world.