New York City is huge. Vertically, horizontally, culturally, every which way you look at it. The greater NYC area covers 468 square miles and is home to nearly 8.5 million people. The five boroughs (read: “large neighborhoods”) within NYC are as follows: Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten; from the Battery to the top of Manhattan. (Thanks, Beastie Boys.) And, going one level deeper, within each borough you’ll find a number of smaller neighborhoods that effectively divide the space in to different “lands”, each with their own personality and offerings as if Mr. Disney had something to do with the layout. Or maybe it’s more like Pokémon Red but, instead of trainers challenging you in the middle of the road, there are tourists, sidewalk solicitors and panhandlers getting in your way. Having grown up skateboarding in a small California town, I was presented with a particular view on what skateboarding “is”. California is totally rad, don’t get me wrong, but moving to New York City is allowing me to explore more of what skateboarding has to offer.
Skateboarding, much like New York City, is more than the umbrella term abused by the marketing team at your favorite carbonated beverage company. Yes, Mr. Smalltownamerica, there is more to New York City than Times Square and whatever else your senior trip shoved down your throat. And there is more to skateboarding than flipping a kick over a 13-stair handrail. (I hope you’re already aware of this. This is Wheelbase Magazine, after all.) There’s a lot going on beneath the umbrella of skateboarding and, conveniently enough for what I’m doing here, it all finds a way to exist in the Big Apple.
Last week I met up with New York City frequent flyer Steven Vera in Battery Park. We talked about skateboarding, the City and how it’s possible to just get stuck in one way of doing things. Vera mentioned he doesn’t want to be pinned down as “the flat ground kid” known for only doing freestyle or, worse, for not trying anything new. It’s like becoming a regular at the deli because you’re scared to try the Cantonese place next door because “it’s different” even though it’s got a higher Yelp rating and the hostess is très adorbs. That’s just not a good way to live. In an effort to expand his skatehorizon, Vera scoped this stair set and got a small bite off the Big Apple. It’s not easy to get a ten pound drop-through board off the ground, yet Vera still makes it happen.
It should also be noted this wasn’t a first-try deal.
I’ll be columnizing monthly in an effort to highlight a relationship between skateboarding and New York City. I like GIFs (see examples above) so I’m going to make use of them in a supplementary manner while I’m at it. Hit me up on Tumblr in the meantime.