On Location: 3 Guerilla-’Crete Spots In The NYC Area
Words & photos: Jennifer Sherowski
As was pointed out to me recently, every act of skating is DIY as much as it isn’t. From waxing a curb to spearheading a park build in your town, it all starts with just people. It’s all just skateboarding.
Last week, though, Curb Cut dipped into the New York City scene and skated a couple renegade spots that are DIY in the rawest sense—built illegally on pirated land, sometimes under cover of darkness, with money scrounged from the builders’ own pockets.
The BQE, Shorty’s, and the JC “Junk Spot”: There’s creativity, self risk, and fuck-it-ness alive in all of them. And because the streets are ever changing, these spots might not be there next week. For now, though, they exist in all their glory, waiting for you to go out and find them and play on them with your little wooden toy.
BQE — Brooklyn, New York
In a shadowy expanse under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, some crust banks and quarterpipes sit for your skateboarding pleasure. Pioneered and sometimes maintained by Jerry Mraz—OG NYC skater and consummate guerilla spot builder—the BQE has become a kinda community project with help from Polar, Theories, and KCDC, among others.
As City-Of-Brooklyn land, the spot has had ups and downs—seen features come and go. “The city tore out out a bunch of stuff, but they don’t really maintain under there,” says Pat Smith, owner of NYC-based Coda Skateboards and oft-times park builder. “The rumor is that someone from sanitation has a son who skates there.”
Shorty’s — Newark, New Jersey
Reportedly named after a homeless lady who localized the spot, Shorty’s sits in a part of Newark’s industrialized wasteland. It’s a renegade tranny-land in the vein of Burnside, Marginal Way, et cetera—only built inside a decaying warehouse instead of under a bridge.
A few weeks ago, the Newark Mayor gave the Shorty’s crew the official okay to keep skating and building. Shorty’s is on the up and up! For now, at least … (Remember when Portland’s Brooklyn Street Skate Spot had an offical Land-Use Variance from the city but still got mowed? R.I.P.)
“If Shorty’s gets knocked down tomorrow, there’s endless amounts of abandoned buildings,” Andrew McGouglin, one of the park’s founders, told Jenkem in THIS COOL spotlight on the park. “I don’t know why more people don’t do it.”
Junk Spot — Jersey City, New Jersey
On a slab of cement foundation across the river from Manhattan sits a kind of renegade skate-able sculpture garden. The “Junk Spot” as it’s known has existed in more than one form and had more than one set of builders/caretakers. Shit gets built. Shit gets smashed by the city or by vandals. Skaters get discouraged or move on. That’s how it goes.
“Ponch, Joban, and I started building first by fixing the original quarterpipe that was nearly completely destroyed, and we’ve been building ever since,” says resident Jersey City skater and master craftsman Nick Gaudio. “That was two years ago I believe.”
The land’s privately owned and although the owners haven’t turned up, the city’s def wise to the park. “There are cops driving in and out of there all the time,” says Gaudio. “The fire department came once because someone called in a fire. They just laughed when they saw a bunch of grown men drinking beers around a contained fire.”