Philadelphia’s LOVE Park, a dead plaza in the 1980s, was brought back to life by skateboarding, transforming this downtown plaza into an international hub of a multi-billion-dollar sport. When the City enforced a skateboarding ban back in 2002, a coalition of advocates raised over $1 million, gained 10,000 petition signatures from 40 nations, and editorials in the city’s major daily newspapers in support of re-opening the park to skateboarding.
Because of LOVE Park, Philadelphia hosted the X Games two years in a row and was home to some of the nation’s top professional skateboarders. However, City government turned down a $1 million from California-based DC Shoes to reopen the park to skateboarding. The city is now moving ahead on renovating the plaza to discourage skateboarding. The issue is at the heart of a larger debate around the acceptability of skateboarding as part of a mixed-use urban environment.