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City's Best Skate Parks Let Boarders Escape the Daily Grind

By Nigel Chiwaya | August 8, 2012 6:43am

NEW YORK CITY — Skateboarding has taken the Big Apple by storm in recent years and the city has responded with a torrent of new public skate parks.

There are currently 18 public skate parks in New York City, seven of which have opened since 2010. There's at least one public skate park in every borough, with two more parks planned to open within the next few years.

That means that whether you're an absolute beginner or a seasoned shredder, there's a park for you.

The Bronx:
The northernmost borough has the second most skate parks in the city.

The Bronx is home to the Bronx Skate Park on Bronx Park East between Britton Street and Allerton Avenue, the Bruckner Skate Park on Brinsmade Avenue and Cross Bronx Expressway, the Mullaly Skate Park on 164th Street between Jerome and River Avenues, and River Avenue Skate Park, on East 157th and River Avenue.

Two — Mullaly and River Avenue — are located near Yankee Stadium, with River Avenue built on the site of a former Yankee Stadium parking lot.

The River Avenue park, a 10,000 foot concrete skate park that opened in 2010, is a favorite among South Bronx skaters, who laud its high ramps and drops and say that the stairs and grind rails remind them of things they would come across while skating around the neighborhood.

"It has a little bit of street," Michael Leon, 20, who lives in the South Bronx, said of the park.

The River Avenue facility is located directly underneath an overpass for the 4 train, and skaters said that it provides good shade when the trains aren't passing by overhead.

While the park is empty around noon, skaters say that it gets really crowded in the late afternoon, when children around the neighborhood get out of school and stunt cyclists also flock to the park.

Boarders from around the city might have their favorite local haunts, but when asked where they skate outside of their local parks, they all answered the same: Manhattan.

According to newyorkcityskateparks.com, the borough features five free parks. Two of them, at Pier 62 in Chelsea and Pier 25 in Tribeca, are run by the Hudson River Trust.

The other three, run by the city parks department, are located at 12th Street and Avenue A in the East Village, 108th street and Riverside Park on the Upper West Side and at Monroe and Pike streets on the Lower East Side.

Coleman Playground, on the Lower East Side, in particular is a destination for skaters since its location directly underneath the Manhattan Bridge provides a barrier against the rain.

Skaters say the park, which was reconstructed in June, has a relaxed atmosphere and is good for skaters of all skill levels. The ramps farthest from the entrance are good for beginners, while the rest of the park is perfect for intermediates and advanced skaters.

"It's pretty nice, the have really nice ledges here," said Jumel Julian, 16, who was visiting New York from Chicago with friends. "This is better than what we have in Chicago."

Queens is home to five skate parks: Astoria Skate Park, located under the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge; Maloof Skate Park, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park; Forest Park, on Myrtle Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard; Old Rockaway Park, on Beach 91st and Shore Front Parkway; and New Rockaway Park, on Beach 11th Street and Bay Shore Drive. In addition, a 10,000 square-foot concrete skate park is planned for London Planetree Park in Woodhaven.

Astoria Park is a favorite among western Queens residents. Like with Coleman, Astoria's location under a bridge makes skating during the summer months bearable.

"The shade is great during the heat," said Omar Rivera, 31, of Brooklyn, who gives skateboarding lessons around the city.

Skaters say Astoria's lack of pipes and abundance of of grind rails and pyramids make it a park that is suited for beginners, as evidenced by the large number of children on skateboards and scooters present during a summer day.

"I don't think it's too gnarly; there's nothing too hard," said Mike Graves, 29, of Astoria.

Despite its size, Brooklyn has a distinct lack of public skate parks as the borough is home to only three — Owl's Head Millennium Skate Park in Bay Ridge, Canarsie Skate Park on Seaview Avenue and McCarren Skate Park in Williamsburg.

Owl's Head is the oldest of the three, and, according to the parks department, it features a  6-foot deep "street bowl" and a 12-foot-wide concrete "waterfall", ramps, banks and a free-form bowl.

Owl's Head is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and unlike the other parks mentioned above, the park has strict helmet policy.

Staten Island:
Ben Soto Skate Park in Midland Beach is currently Staten Island's only public skate park.

However, the park doesn't have any ramps, which were torn down by the Parks Department amid controversy in 2011.

Instead, skaters on Staten Island can head to the privately-owned, indoor 5050 Skatepark at 354 Front St. in Stapleton, which opened earlier this month.

The Parks Department has plans to build a new, 10,000 square-foot concrete skate park in Faber Park, Port Richmond, although no expected date of completion has been announced yet.