December 13, 2014

A Future Skate Pilgrimage -- For Now a Virtual One

Some people dream of making a pilgrimage to some holy site or shrine that is particularly important to them, whereas others of us dream of a pilgrimage to the "shrines" of skateboarding. For some while now I've been thinking about what would be a fun and interesting "skate tour." You perhaps know the sort of thing I mean, perhaps you have even thought of it for yourself: visiting famous skate shops and spots that were seen in the skate magazines and skate videos in the 1970's, 80's and 90's, or places which have just generally woven themselves into the fabric of the skate culture. Like our religious pilgrim, what is likely the most practical solution is to pick some location which provides a number of different opportunities in short striking distance. For them, that might mean Jerusalem or Rome, for me it would be the L.A. area, and Venice/Santa Monica specifically.

I thought it might be fun to share some of what I've come up with, maybe see if any readers have any thoughts of their own and provide some Google Streetview links -- Google's Streetview has provided a fun way to have a virtual tour of these places today. I don't know about you, but I'm always interested to see the context of these places and what else is around them.

As I already mentioned, the central hub, for me at least, has to be Venice/Santa Monica -- though, given the skate history found here, I think this is a fair central hub for most anyone. First stop, the original site of the old Zephyr Shop of Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom, found at 2011 Main St., Santa Monica, Ca. (Google Streetview).


An image of the old Zephyr shop location a few years back. Then another surf shop, Horizons West.
(Image credit: Ian T. Edwards)

Even though the Zephyr shop is no longer here of course, it would be amazing to stand outside this site where so much Dogtown and skateboarding history was written. We can be thankful that the site was saved from demolition in 2007 and has since been designated a Santa Monica city landmark.

Continuing on with the tour, it seems to me it's necessary to get right into the heart of Venice where Pacific Ave. intersects with Woodward Ave. (Google Streetview):


Now there are two immediate points of interest to be found here, one to the right and one to the left. Let's first go right, onto Pacific Ave., where we will almost immediately run into the Venice Originals Skateboard Shop (Google Streetview):


Definitely need to make a stop in there. But if we turn just back from here, turning left onto Pacific Ave. instead of right, we'll very quickly find ourselves at what is perhaps the most famous fire hydrant in the world; namely, that which Natas Kaupas spinned upon in Santa Cruz's second skate video, Streets on Fire, at Pacific Ave. and 17th Ave. (Google Streetview):


You can see the fire hydrant just to the bottom left

Amazing little piece of history, and its so great to see the building to the right still looks the same as it did in the video!

While we are on the subject of spots in this area related to Natas, let's turn to the second most famous fire hydrant in the world, one which is seen even more frequently in Wheels of Fire and Streets on Fire, that found on the corner of Hill St. and Third St. in Santa Monica (Google streetview):


I'd also mention a spot where Natas was famously photographed in Thrasher Magazine doing a wallride, on the mural on Oceanside Park Blvd. just south of the 4th St. overpass in Santa Monica (Google Streetview):


Next in our little tour of Venice is Jay Adam's house from when he was a youngster and skating with the Z Boys. Now normally I wouldn't be for posting something like this since I wish to respect privacy, but I'll make an exception in this instance for two reasons: the first is that Jay's family no longer live here, so their privacy is retained; the second is that Jay himself did a video interview in front of his old childhood home, thereby showing he didn't mind this being known. The attraction to this site isn't some sort of "groupie" attraction to Jay, it's rather because of the skate history he mentions about he and some of the Z Boys that took place around this house. (Watch the video -- and here is the Google Streetview link.)


Continuing on, we already dropped by Venice Originals, time to head on over to Rip City Skates on Santa Monica Blvd. (Google Streetview):


Some other sites in the Santa Monica area that would be worth hitting are the old banked school yards, such as Paul Revere Middle School where we saw Natas and others ripping it up in so many videos:


Finally, what would a trip to the L.A. region be without a stop into the legendary Pink Motel on San Fernando Rd. where you can skate their pool to this day (thanks to Lance Mountain!) and which most of us saw in the pool skating session of the legendary skate film, The Search for Animal Chin. (Google Streetview):


And here it is from above so you can see the pool:


So there it is. My little skate 'pilgrimage'. Where would you go?

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