By: Brad Larrison
Stand on it Pussy FDR Skatepark in Pictures
By: Brad Larrison Documentary Photography Final Spring 2010
Welcome to FDR... Built on donated land underneath I-95 at the southern tip of Philadelphia, FDR came to be following the city’s ban on skateboarding in Love Park. FDR skatepark was built by the city’s skateboarders without funding from city hall. Since then, it was used as a venue for the nationally televised Gravity Games in 2005, been featured in video games, and seen in countless times skateboard videos and nationally circulated magazines. FDR is not for the timid or the beginner, honestly, it’s scary. The locals are notorious for harrassing outsiders who don’t respect the space or those who clearly don’t belong there. However, if you spend enough time under the bridge you realize that they aren’t this way due to spite or malice, they simply don’t want and accident to cause the park to shut down. Some of these people put there entire life into the creation and maintainence of the FDR, going to greate lengths to raise funds for materials and tools. Losing it would certainly be like losing apart of themselves, to some it really is like home. At FDR the mindset seems to be that of personal freedom, you can do whatever you want. Write graffitti, drink alcohol in public -- in some cases while skating -- do drugs, pick a fight, break a bone, break whatever...no one will stop you. As long as it’s within reason. There are parties, bonfires, occasionally concerts once or twice a year, and there’s always someone skating. The locals are a tighnit group and everyone seems to know eachother, it’s a community, people help each other out when needed. If your there and you ride a skateboard, you feel like you belong. It might not seem that way at first, but eventually you become another regular.
What FDR provides for skateboarders in Philadelphia is a free place to go following the ban on skating in Love Park. Many adorn tattoos of the famous Love Park logo to commerate time spent skating there. While FDR might not be the ideal place for every type of skater -it is layed out much different than Loveit provides a place free from police and others who at times treat skaterboarders like second class citizens. It’s a place to meet up with like minded people, it’s free, and far removed from the public eye. The seclusion of FDR is really what sets it apart though. While Love was smack in the middle of Center City, FDR is tucked away quietly at the very tip of South Philadelphia. Most people just aren’t aware of it. However, a few years ago the average Philadelphia resident was probably aware of the skateboarders frequenting Love Park. Only the occasional passersby take the time to see whats happening, and I think for most, that’s it’s charm.