In the 1980’s, Philadelphia’s LOVE Park was known as the world famous center for skateboarding. Although this sport had been around for over 40 years, it’s popularity was increasing due to the sport becoming more diverse and urban. The structuring of the Park, with curving stairs and walls, helped “street skating” become famous. Love Park became an international icon for skateboarding, but planned renovations to the Park, could jeopardize the city’s image which would impact it negatively.
Over the years, LOVE Park has been shown to the world as a “Skateboarding” park. ESPN’s X-Games, who came to Philadelphia in 2001 and 2002, focused on Philadelphia’s LOVE Park. Tony Hawk’s “Pro Skater 2″ video game even features it. International skateboarding apparel companies displayed LOVE in posters, ads and on shoes. Even a campaign was started in 2003, to bring skateboarding back to the Park by a group called, Friends of LOVE Park. With this group wanting to create a helpful solution they tried compromising by only allowing skateboarding to occur after 3 p.m. on weekdays and with no skating allowed along pedestrian paths. This solution was endorsed by a majority of City Council and by editorials in the Daily News and Inquirer. California-based DC Shoes also backed this solution by offering a gift to the city of $1 million dollars with no strings attached. The reason being, is that one of the company’s sponsored skaters who has a seven-figured salary, Stevie Williams, once practiced at LOVE Park.
However, the Mayor of Philadelphia, John Street, did not accept the $1 million and dismissed the purposed solution. Thus, in 2005, the city began heavily pushing the enforcement of a skateboarding ban to the Park, even after, 1,041 people voted in a Daily News poll and 69 percent of them “said they believed skateboarders should be allowed back into the park.” The former editorial page editor of the Inquirer, Chris Satullo wrote a column in 2004 stating,”This is important. LOVE Park is a test case of whether this city can do the things that cities must do to thrive. Smart cities don’t spit on serendipity . . . The mayor and his top aides are talented people who do their best as they see it. But they just don’t get it. They don’t get how cities save themselves. It’s enough to make you cry.” Several sponsored skateboarders, including Stevie Williams, left Philadelphia once the skateboarding ban was in place, which ultimately also took their salaries and fan base with them.
To show just how much the Park is known internationally, 40 nations signed a petition for restoring skateboarding which was created by Friends of LOVE Park, it amounted to 10,000 petitioned signatures. However, A recent article by PlanPhilly.com stated that skateboarding still won’t be allowed after the LOVE Park renovation, which may permanently destroy the park’s signature features.