It’s Now Legal to Skateboard at LOVE Park (For a Few Days)

Mayor Kenney has ruled skateboarding legal in LOVE Park until it is closed on February 15th. “Come back for one more spin,” he said.


Photo | Jeff Fusco

LOVE Park is slated for a a major redesign, and today is the groundbreaking.

And today, Mayor Jim Kenney made a major announcement: At the LOVE Park “spaceship” building, Kenney said the ban on skateboarding at the park was being lifted … until February 15th, when it’s closed for renovation. “Come back for one more spin,” Kenney said. The idea came from Jesse Rendell, the son of former mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell.

“I invite all skateboarders who have ever enjoyed recreating here to take advantage of this opportunity,” Kenney added. “You are a part of our community and a part of the fabric of LOVE Park.” The granite from LOVE Park will be donated to the Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund, which (if you couldn’t guess) supports the construction of skate parks around the city.

Officials say the LOVE statue is also being moved to Dilworth Park in the next few weeks. It will be placed somewhere on the west side of the cafe through the summer.

LOVE Park first became a hotbed for skateboarding sometime in the mid-1980s. By 1995, skateboarding was illegal in the park, with fines increasing in 2001. But people still skated it; the X Games were held in the city in 2000 and 2001 and were considered widely successful. Rumors abounded the X Games might be using Philly as a permanent home. But in 2002 the fine increased to $300. “Are skateboarders bad for JFK Plaza?” the Inquirer’s Inga Saffron wrote, calling LOVE Park by its official name. “No. They’re the good users. Banning them won’t make the park inviting to others. … Frankly, I miss the dudes.”

The park was then given an $800,000 facelift in an attempt to make it “un-skateable.”

“But aside from pros, and their media counterparts, LOVE hosted dozens who were content merely to skate there,” Rick Valenzuela wrote in a eulogy for the park in City Paper. “These were the heads who composed LOVE’s core of regulars — kids who rode the El from the Northeast and Frankford, skated downhill on Market Street from West Philly, through the neighborhoods of South Philly, Center City residents who moved specifically to skate nearby LOVE.

“It’s these folks whose daylong sessions generated the murmur that would eventually spread throughout the East Coast and to the industry. The ones who shoveled snow for a 1993 contest. The ones who befriended the other park users, mainly drug addicts and drug sellers, sometimes playing ‘bum football’ with them. Or those who brought beer for the Fourth of July fireworks — or that keg a couple years back.”

The reconstruction hasn’t stopped some skateboarders from still grinding on the once-legendary skate spot, which has appeared as a level in several of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games. But people who do attempt to skate in LOVE Park are on a constant lookout for the police, and their numbers have dwindled. Now they get one more weekend. It’s supposed to be in the single digits, but somehow I doubt it will stop them.