TriBeCa’s New Skate Park is an Instant Success in Skateboarding Community
By Julie Shapiro
TRIBECA — Just two weeks after it opened, the new skate park in TriBeCa was already drawing crowds from around the city and beyond.
From 8 a.m. until dusk, skateboarders and rollerbladers pack the 8,750-square-foot park at N. Moore Street and the Hudson River, waiting in line and performing their tricks shoulder to shoulder.
"It’s been almost scary how popular it is," said Marc Boddewyn, vice president of design and construction for the Hudson River Park Trust, which built the park. "We’re very happy."
Unlike the California-style skate park that the Trust opened on Pier 62 in Chelsea earlier this year, the $650,000 TriBeCa park near Pier 25 is a street-style course, featuring railings, stairs, ledges and ramps.
"The only thing it’s missing is the potholes," said Craig Dziura, 29, as he caught his breath after skating the park on Friday afternoon.
Dziura, a New Jersey resident, is a web producer in SoHo and likes to come to the new park on his lunch break. He said it’s the most street-like skate environment in Manhattan.
"This is awesome," agreed Kevin Whitney, 18, a Bronx resident who said the park is worth the long train ride downtown. "It’s just what we needed in the city. It’s not industry-made — a skateboarder made it. They knew what we’d want."
The inspiration behind the park was New York City skateboarding legend Andy Kessler, who died last year of an insect sting at the age of 48. A daredevil skateboarder who later worked with the city to build skate parks, Kessler was a leader of the city’s skating world for several decades.
The TriBeCa skate park is the last one Kessler designed before his death, Boddewyn said.
The popularity of the park meant not everyone who turned up could skate at once. Several skaters said there was an unspoken system in place that allowed everyone to get their turn, and so far it was working well.
"It’s organized chaos," Dziura said.
Several people, though, said they wished the park were bigger.
"It gets kind of crowded, especially after school," said Ralphie Nieves, 15, who lives on the Upper West Side. "But other than that, it’s pretty solid."
Gee Lee, 34, a New Jersey resident who was rollerblading and photographing the skateboarders last week, said he has seen collisions on the overcrowded course, but no serious injuries.
Lee said he thought the park was popular partly because there are so few options for people who want to skate.
"People have no place to go, so they come here," Lee said.