If you want to see the birthplace of skateboarding, you need to make your way to Dogtown. The skating culture in LA’s slums would eventually change the world, but it wasn’t always that way.
Today, a trip to Santa Monica takes you to some lovely boutiques, promenades, and people working out along the beach. It wasn’t that long ago that this area was called Dogtown, and it was the heart of LA’s lower-middle-class version of suburbia.
Instead of taking items from Amazing Grass or Sunwarrior to get your energy levels up, the goal was to survive. You worked hard, scraped by, and taught your kids how they could be resilient in a complicated world.
It All Started at Pacific Ocean Park
The city opened a pier at Pacific Ocean Park in 1958, offering another visual representation of American’s Golden Era at the time. By the 1970s, it was already abandoned. That’s when society’s “misfits” started hanging out around the area.
The place began to be known as POP, and the surfing around the pier eventually got the region dubbed as “The Cove.”
What could these young adults do on the days when the waves weren’t strong enough for surfing? Those brainstorming sessions led to skateboarding in the streets to practice surfing, and that process eventually led some to transition their tricks from the water to the land.
Some of the initial group members are revered names in the skateboarding community today: Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams, and Peggy Oki.
When drought came to LA during the 1970s, swimming pools dried up to become places for skateboarding to evolve. The sport took its evolutionary leap toward the various bowls, obstacles, and shapes we see today to encourage boarders to catch some air.
We wouldn’t have Tony Hawk without the pioneering work of Jim Muir or Wentzle Ruml.
That’s how LA became the birthplace of skateboarding. If you travel to Santa Monica, you’re visiting holy ground.