Down Memory Lane: The Evolution of Skateboarding
When the skateboard first came into existence in the 50s, nobody could have imagined that they would last this long. This is a walk down memory lane. Could you have guessed that people were skating on clay wheels? Yeah the global phenomenon started on clay wheels. Cooked clay is perhaps where it all began. And look at where we are now. We even have smart skateboards coming out of the Silicon Valley and Shenzhen (as if they don’t produce everything tech).
The 50’s and 60’s; The birth of the skateboard
Borne in the 1950s, the skateboard craze has gradually gained ground. You should not be surprised that modern parents are more comfortable with their kids trying out a skateboard that taking up softball and baseball. Skateboarding has its roots in California. Surfers wanted a fun activity to engage in when the waves in the sea were flat and this was the birth of sidewalk surfing as skateboarding was initially called. The early skateboards were very difficult to ride not to mention manoeuvring. Nonetheless, the stage was set and skateboarding was catching fire in the late 1960’s. The major developments that led to the success of skateboarding had everything to do with the wheels, at first. Early skateboards were wooden boards that had wheels taken from roller-skates and bolted underneath. It was not until the 1960's that we had wheels made purposely for skate boards (clay wheels). Polyurethane wheels were not used until the 1970's and ever since, they evolved to become the most commonly used skateboard wheels to date. Back then, the wheels were large. Today, the trend seems to be smaller wheels that are easy to do flip tricks on.
Skateboard with old clay wheels
The 70’s and 80’s; The kicktail debut; skateboard as we now know it
In the early 1970’s, manufacturers started adding kicktails and since then, skateboarding tricks have never been the same again. In fact, it is during this decade that the first Ollie was done. Apparently, the stunt was named after the guy who first did it; Allan “Ollie” Gelfand. The major structural feature that was added in the 1980's is perhaps the side rail. The side rails became standard in boards making it easy to pull stunts on the "coping of the bowls and vert ramps" as described by a graphical illustration by Mpora.
Santa Cruz displaying incredible skateboard art
The 90’s; The skateboard designs; a piece of art
No major structural development took place towards the mid 1990’s. Skateboarding grew as an anti-establishment culture. Skateboard owners were determined to grow their passion. It is in this decade that we had the most skateboard ramps being built. It was mostly in the backyards. Those without spacious backyards took to the streets. The world was now being viewed as a big skate park. During this evolutionary period, there were skateboards of all sizes and shapes. Skateboard designers had a kill with the numerous skaters looking to have a custom made skateboard design on their decks. This phenomenon is still a craze nearly three quarters of a century since the first skateboard. Modern skateboarders have an advantage in that they can design their own skateboards online and have them shipped to their doorsteps.
2000s to now; skateboards never seen before.
The new millennium saw skateboarding earning its place in the society. It had come of age just like any other sport. We started having public skateparks cropping out of everywhere. You should seriously consider spending a Day at the Skate park at Bondi. The folks in Silicon Valley ensured that every kid could become a skateboard star from the comfort of their rooms with skateboard video games. They are so many that you will be spoilt of choice especially if you are using the android platform.
Skateboards are now lighter and safer. It doesn’t require you to be a pro to ride a skateboard. Tech companies such as the Marble have designed an electric skateboard that weighs less than 10 pounds. It is said that it can take you 10 miles on a single charge. Looking in to the next decade, the science that will go into developing skateboards for kids will be immense. The future and the technology that comes with it has finally caught up on a board that once ran on clay wheels. And that is the evolution of skateboards.
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