New Yorkers who complained about skate rats back in the 1960s would be positively terrified of the skaters in the city today.
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.
“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.”
“It is also a menace to limb and even to life.”
The captions to Life photographer Bill Eppridge’s images helpfully explain this new “fad or menace” to readers.
“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.”