The skateboarding kids of 1960s New York

New Yorkers who complained about skate rats back in the 1960s would be positively terrified of the skaters in the city today.

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Skateboarding “is the most exhilarating and dangerous joyriding device this side of the hot rod,” wrote Life magazine in 1965, in the text accompanying a photo essay of the early skateboarders riding New York’s streets and Central Park.

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“A two-foot piece of plastic mounted on wheels, it yields to the skillful user the excitement of skiing or surfing. to the unskilled it gives the effect of having stepped on a banana peel while dashing down he back stairs.”

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“It is also a menace to limb and even to life.”

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The captions to Life photographer Bill Eppridge’s images helpfully explain this new “fad or menace” to readers.

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“Skylarking through Central Park and along crowded Manhattan streets. exuberant young New Yorkers epitomized the perils of the skateboard. In the park they take over paths made for peaceful strollers and elsewhere they scorn the sidewalks because ‘they wear out the wheels’ and ride on the busy streets through, besides, and all-but-under the cars.”

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8 Responses to “The skateboarding kids of 1960s New York”

  1. Ellen Levitt Says:

    And they aren’t wearing helmets….

  2. Di Says:

    Love these photos, innocent days

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    No helmets, no knee pads, no parental supervision!

  4. Edward Says:

    And kids actually dressed like adults back then! No baggy pants, no tats, no knit caps in 90-degree weather, no irony period.

  5. Frank M Says:

    As far as I know, the original “skateboards” consisted of a wood plank with roller skate wheels attached to the underside. At the front end of the board was nailed an orange (the fruit, not the color) crate with one or two pieces of wood nailed to the top as handlebars.

  6. Tom B Says:

    The two small boys are wearing a hoodie, tennis shoes and denim jeans. But it looks so much different than today. Must be the attitude.

  7. 2014 SKATEBOARDING VIDEOS Says:

    […] The skateboarding kids of 1960s New York | Ephemeral New York […]

  8. This Week’s New York History Web Highlights | The New York History Blog Says:

    […] 1960s Skateboarding: Ephemeral New York […]

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