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CULTURE
FDR Skatepark: A Visual History
Fifteen years of DIY evolution under an ordinary overpass outside Philadelphia
by Graham Hiemstra
on 31 October 2012
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In the early 1990's skateboarding had found a special place in Philadelphia, Love Park. Kids young and old traveled from around the world to skate its pristine ledges and infamous fountain gap. And while the struggling skateboard community embraced the park, the city felt otherwise. To "clean up" downtown Philly the city hired security at Love Park and slapped some concrete under an I-95 overpass in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park some five miles outside of town, calling it a skatepark for the youth. Although laughed at by locals at first, after some serious DIY renovation FDR skatepark was really born. Documenting the past 15 years of constant construction and evolution is the new book FDR Skatepark: A Visual History, released late this past summer.

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No doubt inspired by the godfather of DIY skateparks, Portland'sBurnside, FDR is seven years its junior, but larger and constantly growing. Regardless of age or size, FDR is internationally known as being both an extremely difficult place to skate and a generally sketchy place to hang out. Through 170 pages of archival imagery by 25 contributors and brief interviews with longstanding locals a sense of this righteous and raucous attitude is captured.

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While the aesthetic is raw, the book's execution is polished, toeing the line between photography and skateboard history book with captivating imagery that appeals to both parties. Either way the informative book holds a rich history built of hard work and dedication that's likely to appeal to everyone from those who've spent a lifetime pushing wood and even to the outside admirer.

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As the entire park has been funded out of pocket by dedicated locals, all proceeds from FDR Skatepark: A Visual History will be donated to further expand the park's illusive boundaries. For more information see Architzer's first look. To grab a copy of FDR Skatepark: A Visual History check your local skate shop or find it online through Amazon for $23.

Overview image by Ryan Gee

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