10 Iconic Skate Spots That Got Destroyed
Join a nostalgic journey through skate spot history, as we go over some of the most loved skate spots in the U.S. that have unfortunately met their fate and are no more.
1. CARLSBAD GAP, CARLSBAD, CA.
If you don't recognize this spot at first glance, then allow me to educate you! As most of the older skaters will know, The Carlsbad Gap is an absolute classic! And just like most of the spots that you will see in this list, this spot has spilt a huge chunk of skateboarding history over its time and would continue to do so until its fateful day where this street skaters paradise came to an end. It was destroyed by diggers and bulldozers in late February of 2012. Skaters were spotted tagging the broken steps and even pocketing pieces of the crumbled ledge to take home with them. (R.I.P)
There are some videos online which can be found of all the heavy tricks that have been thrown down by so many legends I can’t possibly begin to list them, Brandon Turner’s switch hardflip from ‘Shorty’s Guilty’ (2001), however, has got to be the best trick that spot had ever seen! I highly recommend searching Carlsbad Gap Trick Montage, to see just what crazy shit went down at that legendary spot.
There was an event held by Transworld to celebrate the last days of the spot and even then, there were so many bangers thrown down.
2. EL TORO. ORANGE COUNTY, CA.
Due to the ridiculous amount of viral videos from failed attempts, there's an astonishing amount of people who are not necessarily skaters but still familiar with El Toro. Anything that's ever been done or even attempted on this spot is well respected as well as just insane! Some of the world's best handrail and stair skaters have often fought a heavy battle with El Toro just to secure that one that makes them roll away… or not! This spot almost becomes a joke for anyone else as it takes a huge pair of balls to step up to the plate and throw yourself down there. One try is enough to get you a doctor's note (and a week off work if you’re lucky).
Unfortunately, it has been skate-stopped now so although it might not be ‘destroyed’ it has been tampered with to intentionally ‘stop’ or fuck over anyone daring enough to continue to throw themselves down it. So if it took big balls ever getting ‘buck’ on this spot, you are screwed because now you’re going to need a gigantic pair! The installation of a farmers' gate took place up at the top of the stairs with some added blind spots on both the take-off and landing. So as if the gap wasn’t big enough already, now you have to pop earlier and land later… We are all excited to see who manages to get footage down there now!
3. LOVE PARK, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
Love Park is still a sensitive topic! There were many petitions to ‘Make Skateboarding Legal’ at this spot. As skaters were arrested and ticketed all day/every day here and were often harassed, have their boards stolen and even attacked by law enforcement. Mr. Edmund Bacon (the park's original designer) even took a stand, where he heartwarmingly stated that his whole life has all been worth it, just for that moment of being able to feel free and ride a skateboard through his beloved Love Park.
This Plaza had an immeasurable history of skateboarding and I think it secured a special place within all skaters the more well known and iconic it became throughout the years, from icons such as Sabotage crew, Stevie Williams, Josh Kalis, Rob Dyrdek, Danny Way, Ishod Wair and hundreds more! Despite the efforts made by all parties, the city eventually put their foot down and started to rip out the worshipped floor tiles, some of which were taken home by locals as a sign of respect and honoring the plaza. Rob Dyrdek has one at his home where it continues to be loved!
4. BROOKLYN BANKS, NEW YORK, NY.
The Brooklyn Banks, in the early days, was a place known only through word of mouth, the legendary spot then started to grow and gain popularity amongst skaters based both in and outside of the city, as they became more familiar with the spot through videos and magazines. Some such legends as Harold Hunter (R.I.P), Mark ‘The Gonz’ Gonzalez, Andrew Reynolds, Mike Vallely, Mike Carroll and Danny Supa just to name a few would come through the city and rip up the spot.
Unfortunately, as time went on, the spot only had problems to follow as the city did not see this as the Landmark we all think of, and simply pressured the restrictions more and more until eventually the spot was closed for “Bridge Repairs” and then the process of removing the bricks is what followed.
5. HUBBA HIDEOUT, SAN FRANCISCO, CA.
This is about as classic as you can get and is one of the most iconic spots in skateboarding! For a long time, the Hubba hideout has been demolished to the point where many young skaters are unaware of its existence. The only reason why skateboarders call a ledge that goes down the side of a stair set a Hubba is because of this spot. If you watch any full-length video from the ’90s and early 2000s, you will certainly spot Hubba Hideout mixed with some Steve Olson swag. There were two perfectly symmetrical hubbas, which is very rare to find in the streets especially ones that are as perfect as the Hubba hideout ones were. If you still have a copy of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4, you can still skate it!
6. JUSTIN HERMAN PLAZA (“EMBARCADERO/EMBARCO”) - SAN FRANCISCO, CA.
Visiting Embarcadero meant enduring bad vibes from the locals there. If you weren’t from Embarcadero, you were a “T-Dog.” The EMB would use this term liberally to describe any outsider. It could be the kid that always got in the way or the kid that sat and watched like it was a demo. If all you received was a bad vibe, you could consider yourself lucky. Many T-Dogs fell victim to beatings, courtesy of the EMB crew. (EMB is the acronym for the locals that skated there which stands for “Embarco’s Most Blunted.”
In ’86, Mark Gonzalez ollied down from the top of the wave to the main stage. As a result, The Gonz Gap was born and it established a landmark gap for the next decade. Then in '93 Gonzalez would become the first person to kickflip it. After restrictions and punishments were ordered against the skateboarders, the battle for keeping the spot began and skating at Embarco eventually came to an end around 2000 when the c-block and most of the other ledges got taken out and security increased, rendering skating EMB, therefore making it impossible to skate.
7. THE ARCO HANDRAILS, LOS ANGELES, CA.
This spot could be tackled many ways and the footage always looked sick, you could hit each set as a single or just as Chad Muska demonstrated in Fulfill The Dream, the square rails that ran down the center of the 9 and 17 stairset could be skated in a line. In Transworld's Sight Unseen, Heath Kirchart tried a lengthier part with two 17 stair rails in a row and wound up sliding along the floor in the fetal position at the bottom of the second set when a lipslide went tits up.
Naturally, the 9 stair got a lot more action especially from the likes of Eric Kosten who holds the crown for the best trick to ever go down there on film. He pulled off a nollie backside noseblunt which you can see as his ender in Girl’s 'Yeah Right'.
Jamie Thomas also favorited this rail for his technical tricks and he was landing bolts on switch lipslides and frontside 180 50-50s as seen in his Dying To Live section.
After many failed attempts to prevent the rails from being skated, the city eventually decided that it was time for them to go all together, and have since been removed.
8. THE LEAP OF FAITH, SAN DIEGO, CA.
Again we’re unsure that the younger skaters will even remember this one going down. On the other hand, this is undoubtedly a timeless photo of Jamie Thomas which should never be forgotten. This time, he hits the ground like a sack of spuds! Normally it’s a rule to not use a bail for an advert or video part. But this is just incomprehensible and needed to be seen by everybody. Plus, it was highly unlikely that anyone would have talked shit on it. Jamie Thomas is one of the very few to actually attempt the Leap of Faith and he deserved the fullest respect for giving it 100!
The spot has since been revamped and the original gap has basically been replaced by a solid brick wall. It is always sad to see an iconic spot get destroyed but we can be sure that there wasn’t as much upset with this spot being destroyed as there was with the previous ones mentioned, maybe even a feeling of relief for upcoming skaters in San Diego knowing that they don’t have to throw themselves down it in their next part.
9. SUNSET CARWASH, LOS ANGELES, CA.
It sucks to have to add this one to the list as it’s the most recent, iconic spot to be shut down. It's crazy to think that anything more than an ollie went down on this spot. Dustin Dollin attempted to kickflip into it and put up an impressive fight after receiving countless blows to the head. Then Milton Martinez did the impossible and stomped a soaring kickflip in 2019. Alex Midler got technical and landed a flawless backside 360 ollie into the same bank a year after, followed by Gavin Kish’s half cab back in April of this year.
As of October 2021, Sunset Carwash has had a barrier installed and runs along the bottom of the bank, matching its entire length. So there’s no way of dodging it unless someone takes a saw to it and frees the landing again, however that will only cause more problems and you’d most likely get arrested if you tried!
10. CARDIELS RAIL, LEVIS PLAZA, SAN FRANCISCO, CA.
Last but not least, we have the Cardiel rail, which is rightfully named after skateboarding legend John Cardiel. The title ‘Legend’ has been used frequently in this article but it’s not to be assumed that this word is just commonly thrown out there, this is because there are so many icons in this article that have blatantly turned everyday city architecture into the legendary spots we know today! If you ask any skateboarder to describe John Cardiel, the most commonly used word would of course be ‘Legend’. Just like the Leap of Faith, this spot was not one to be skated often, it was only attempted by two people in fact, and John Cardiel was the only one to land it.
Even though it’s no longer skateable and the rail has been removed, this does end on a good note as John Cardiel's gold rail is now his for good! He became the official owner of this rail in 2015 where Spitfire had uploaded a video to YouTube showing them helping the workers remove and transport the rail by mini-van.
For anybody who is not aware, In December of 2003, Cardiel was on tour and filming a skate video in Australia when he suffered a major spinal cord injury in which he had to endure a painstaking 5 months in hospital with rehabilitation where he would incredibly learn to walk, ride a bike, and even cruise on a skateboard again!