1. A nostalgic journey back to the past
Today, I would like to share an overview of skateboards history for all the hardcore fans out there. It has been a giant step from the big and clunky skateboards changing into today’s lightweight skateboards.
All thanks to the community contribute with its creativity and innovation over the decades. Let’s take a moment and appreciate the skateboarding legacy altogether!
2. Skateboards in the 1940s – 1950s
Alright! Let’s jump back to the past around the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Though we don’t know who actually started skateboarding, yet it started with a group of surfers. Imagine in California, back in those days, these surfers would like something to do while there is no wave to ride.
Then, they come up with a new concept! How about surfing on the flat street?
From that moment, the first model of the skateboard has been born. The skateboard back then consist of a roller skate attached with a wooden box. As for the term, they used to call “sidewalk skating”.
How interesting is that?
Soon, this trend became popular in many towns in California. At the same time, skateboarders realized that the wooden box is causing too much trouble for quick maneuvers.
As you can see right at this point, there is a need for evolution!
Historical records mentioned, in 1959, Roller Derby released his technical innovation of the skateboard with huge improvements. By removing the wooden box, this leaves lots of space for directional controls and lighter to do tricks.
This leads us to the Golden Era of skateboarding in the next decades.
Let’s keep on going!
3. Skateboards in the 1960s
During the 1960s, skateboarding became very popular in the United State, not just California anymore. However, the skateboard of the 1960s was not well-designed. We got rid of the clunky box, yet the deck was still small.
To be precise, the deck was just a small plank of wood and not very tough. This is why we started to hear some famous manufacturers jump into the business. When there is a demand, there will be suppliers.
These famous manufacturers might come across your memory such as Mahaka, Hobie, Bing’s, Jack’s, etc. They were the pioneer of the skateboard evolution in 1963. Though meeting with each other, they have introduced skateboarding widely across the USA.
Also, Surfer Magazine published its quarterly magazine with the name “Skateboarder”. Now you know when and where the term was created.
The surfing community also caught up with this trend. Promoting their personal tricks on the skateboard in many streets and neighborhood. Other clothing and shoe businesses like Vans, Converse, Etnies, etc, jumped on board by creating their skateboard dedicated clothing and streetwear.
You can see this period is where the “wave of skateboarding” was rising!
4. Skateboards in the 1970s
For this period, there is a remarkable invention here!
Around 1972, Frank Nasworthy contributed his urethane wheels to the skateboard. Before that, most skateboard wheels are made of metal to withstand both the skateboarders’ weight and physical force.
With the urethane wheels, people were enjoying the smoother rides and less noisy while skating around. It also helps the skateboard rollover gaps and rough surfaces easily. Nasworthy also started his company called Cadillac Wheels, leading the market at the time.
Later on, the trucks of skateboard also received love and got upgraded in 1976 by Tracker Trucks. The skateboard deck also expanded to a wider size. People also experimented to create different decks in other materials such as aluminum, polypropylene, etc.
Meanwhile, we still did not have skateparks by that time. People mainly skate in urban areas where there were many potential layouts and locations. Then, they started to name these places with unique names such as the Rabbit hole, the Fruit bowl, etc.
Can you imagine lots of enthusiasts would flock near those places just to observe other skateboarding? The needs for a special place reserved only for skateboarding was rising.
As a result, Skateboard City skatepark in Florida and Carlsbad Skatepark in San Diego County were the first two skateparks opened for public in 1976. This trend continued to develop over the 1980s, and over 200 skateparks were built around this time.
Below are the magazines were published in the 1970s
Alan Gelfand probably was the man we should have appreciated the most. He was the one introduced the first Olie trick.
This trick soon revolutionalized the whole skateboarding community and unlocked further skill sets. Today, Olie is the most endorsed beginner tricks that everyone knows.
This is why I said these periods were the Golden Eras!
5. Skateboards in the 1980s -1990s
Though out these two decades, Skateboarding has become widespread in many countries. Lots of fans and skateboarders also innovate both new tricks and refine their techniques.
These were when competitions happen in many skateparks. We even see the introduction to the vertical ramp, aerial styles, freestyles, and more complex tricks. Rodney Mullen was the pioneer who refined the Olie technique and came up with more flip tricks.
Not just Rodney, there was plenty of respected names emerged at the time too. Some of them have become legendary skateboarders today! But I will leave this part for you to do some self-discoveries.
The skateboard’s structure also has been improved further. The deck became broader, tougher, and easier to control mid-air. These improvements assisted with the birth of advanced and professional tricks.
Legendary brands were founded such as Santa Cruz, Powell Peralta, Vision, Girl skateboards etc. These brands were extremely hardcore and creative to provide the best skateboards for the community.
In 1981, Thrasher Magazine was also established. This is a dedicated magazine for skateboarding, and it did go hardcore with the street skateboarding. Lots of professional teams were born this period too.
Competitions, freestyles, new designs, and new tricks were popping up every corner. Skateboarding has invaded into mainstream sports, even ESPN Extreme Games featured it.
This is when skateboarding turned super hot! Everyone was pushing to the new boundaries. Some professionals even attempted impossible tricks and challenges. They also categorized skateboarding into multiple genres or styles.
Though people concerned about the increasing accidents and injuries, the safety of skateboard has already greatly improved. There were lots of new brands offering special gears, and protective equipment in responding to the demand.
Most teenagers were interested more in skateboarding rather than other sport too. Such a great Golden Age that remind me of some remarkable moments!
6. Skateboards in the 2000s – present
Here we arrived, at last, the 21st century!
This is when skateboarding makes it officially: “I am here to stay forever in everyone’s heart!”
Skateboarding from the 2000s till now is not reserved for professional anymore. From a competitive sport, it actually returns to its original core – having fun and enjoying the skateboarding experience.
Regardless of many competitions, both national and international, skateboarding is for everyone. No matter if you are an amateur or a pro, it does not matter to compete much.
Some people just skate to have fun with friends, some need to travel daily, or even just trying a few basic tricks. Even kids learn to skate very early too!
As for the skateboard manufacturers and brands, they won’t stop here. There still be lighter, tougher, and better skateboards in the future. The classic designs and modern artworks still coexist with each other as well.
The market is now full of wonderful skins and inspiring designs. Not only that, the classic designs and styles (also called “old school”) are doing well. I guess some people prefer the good-old-days.
Now, what is going to happen next in a few decades? This totally depends on the young skateboarders today.
No matter where they might lead us, I am so excited to find out with you guys!
Thank you for reading to the end, I wish you success in your learning.