San Francisco has a pretty high count of skate parks within the city. Some are now points of legend (Potrero, Treasure Island), some wane and wax like the moon (SOMA, Rosa Parks), and some fall beneath the cracks for one reason or another (Crocker, Hilltop – which stands on the ground of SF’s first real park, the Dish). Adding another city sanctioned skate area sometimes comes with some critique, but when UN Plaza was announced recently as a skate plaza sitting right outside the Civic Center BART station, the overall populace seemed optimistic.
For one, turning an area that people normally skated anyways, but had fallen victim to some of SF’s modern social and economic problems, into a sanctioned plaza will be a welcomed change. Tourists in the area will be stoked, and young locals will have easy access via the city’s public transit. Second, Austin Kanfoush was the builder for this project, so naturally, skaters got to have a say in how this place should be built. And third, the plaza hosts a number of obstacles within to cater to all different types of skaters. A bank based on the China Banks (complete with a ledge in the middle) closes it in from Market Street, while a bump over flat, multiple ledges, a pyramid, a volcano and a long kinked curb are scattered throughout. There truly is something here for everyone to skate.
With the public engaged, skaters having a new spot to gather, and the support of local politicians (for now), UN Plaza kicks off a new era in San Francisco. The festivities featured speeches from the head of SF Rec and Park, the chief of police, Mayor London Breed, but of course, our scene was represented by two of the finest: Chico Brenes and SF Skate Club founder Shawn Connolly. Shawn made a passionate speech, reflecting on the plaza in a different time when he used to get all you can eat hotcakes at the nearby Carl’s Jr. “A skate park or a skate spot for some of us, although it may seem like an exaggeration, is another word or a way of saying ‘home.'” Shawn isn’t wrong here. As somebody who has done that for countless youth in this city, he knows what he’s talking about, but his finest wisdom came at the very end. “Keep working, keep striving, keep growing. Fall down 7 times, get up 8.”
San Francisco’s skate scene will always be getting back up, as long as wheels ride over the bricks every day making those sounds that soothe our souls.
Enjoy this gallery below shot by Theodore Maider.