How did skateboarding come to be? Who invented the first skateboard? Where was the concept of skateboards and skateboarding developed? While there aren’t any definite or definitive answers to these questions, skateboard decks do indeed have a colorful and rich history to them. And while it’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without skateboarding, many people are surprised to discover that skateboards are a relatively young cultural phenomenon, unlike say, bicycling. So, sit back, relax and enjoy reading this little article which will – hopefully – provide you with some insight with the interesting and unique past that skateboards enjoy.
Modern skateboards were probably first developed around the 1940s. Since skateboarding is somewhat similar to surfing – in theoretical terms, that is, it makes sense that skateboards more than likely came out of California. Surfers, being passionate about what they do, were looking for something to surf when the waves of the ocean weren’t cooperating and weren’t conducive to optimal surfing conditions. And while it’s pretty much impossible to put a name or a face to whomever built the very first skateboard, early skateboards were probably no more complex – or were just as simple (depending on how you want to look at it) – as wooden boards with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. electric skateboard with remote control
These primitive skateboards, which were made by the boarders themselves, were more than likely in heavy use until the 1960s, when the first skateboard manufacturers started to establish themselves. From there, skateboarding – or “sidewalk surfing” as it was called (again, to reflect its surfing origins) started to explode in popularity. For ocean-based surfers, it was a way to keep active and keep moving when the waves weren’t available. For other people – mainly non-surfers – skateboarding was a way to “surf” as it were without having to enter the water. In fact, the body motions of a surfer and a boarder are strikingly similar, which is another testament to the strong historical bonds that the two sports share.
In the 1970s, people started to push the limits of what skateboards could be and of what skateboarders themselves could actually perform on the decks. It was during this time period in which the first polyurethane wheels began to appear – which, of course, is now pretty much standard on any modern or contemporary skateboard. Additionally, more exotic building materials also began to come into play when manufacturing skateboards. Fiberglass, aluminum and other composite materials were being explored in the never ending quest to develop and build the perfect skateboard.
From the 1980’s until today, street skating came to the forefront as more and more people took skateboarding away from cumbersome and complicated skate parks. Skate parks began to make appearances in the late 1970s, but because boarders could injure or hurt themselves on them, many municipalities were closing them down. And because building homemade ramps, pipes was an expensive venture (and perhaps, still is), people took skating onto the streets. As a result, today’s modern skateboards are designed to handle any street or urban skating environment. Today’s skateboard decks are lighter and their wheels are harder.
From humble beginnings in California to a worldwide culture that’s growing and expanding in popularity each and every day, skateboards have had a strange and wonderful trip to enjoy the status that they do today. Where skateboarding will go from here is merely and only anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to say that the next 60 years of skateboards will be just as interesting as its first 60 years.