A skatepark is a purpose-built recreational environment made for skateboarding, BMX and aggressive inline skating. A skatepark may contain half-pipes, quarter pipes, spine transfers, handrails, funboxes, vert ramps, pyramids, banked ramps, full pipes, pools, bowls, snake runs stairsets, and any number of other objects.
The first skatepark in the world for skateboarders and skaters was made of plywood on a half-acre sand lot in Kelso, Washington, USA in 1966. It was lighted for night use. The first modern skatepark is the Carlsbad Skatepark, in Carlsbad, California, was designed and built by inventors Jack Graham and John O'Malley in March 1976. In more extreme climates parks were built indoors, often of wood or metal. By the end of the 1970s the skateboarding fad had waned, and the original parks of the era began to close. A downturn in the general skateboard market in the 1980s and high liability insurance premiums contributed to the demise of the original skateparks. Some second-generation parks such as Upland, California's Pipeline survived into the 1980s. However, few of the private parks of the 1970s remain, with the notable exception of Kona Skatepark in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. However, many public parks of that era can still be found throughout Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The modern skatepark designs of the Pacific Northwest can be traced back to Burnside Skatepark, a DIY "barge build" beneath the Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon. Skateboarders used an area populated primarily by the city's "undesirable elements" to create a skatepark, building one section at a time. The process is called "design/build" (D/B), and is a characteristic of many skateparks today. The design/build process ensures that adjacent skatepark features are harmonious and rideable, allowing skateboarders to create endless "lines" to ride among the many features.
Skate parks, related obstacles/ramps and locations designed for extreme sport utilization have made their way into the media over time, such as with the aforementioned Burnside Skatepark being included in the movie Free Willy.
Public skateparks have had a resurgence in the US, made possible by legislation such as California's 1998 law stating that skateboarding is an inherently "Hazardous Recreational Activity" (HRA), and therefore municipalities and their employees may not be held liable for claims of negligence resulting in skateboarders' injuries.
Street skating has blurred the line between skateparks and street spots. Some cities are starting to put in skate spots/plazas with features that would not have been classically designed for skateboarding, but can be skated by street skaters legally. In some instances, even spots that were not designed for skateboarding have been made legal so that cities did not need to build a new park for skaters. The Skate Plazas allow for legal street skateboarding.
There is also a movement of making art and sculpture skate-able. This provides for more legal skate spots that are blended in with other city art and landscape. They can often even be picturesque destinations for both skaters and non-skaters.
Types of skateparks
Unlike organized sports, like basketball or football, skateboarding has no set arena or rules and skateparks have no standard design template. Each skatepark is designed specifically to provide unique challenges to its users. There are, however, three main categories of skatepark design: bowl, street plaza and flow parks.
Bowl parks are designed to emulate and improve upon the pool skating experience. Skaters in bowl parks can move around the park without taking their feet off the board to push. The curved walls of bowls allow skaters to ride around and across the bowl in addition to the back and forth skating you might see on a traditional half pipe. Bowls and bowl parks come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes but most bowls are between 3' and 12’ deep.
Street plaza parks are the favorite of the vast majority of skaters and they are designed to emulate and improve upon the street skating experience. Obstacles in a street plaza are styled to look like natural street terrain such as stairs, railings, planters and benches. Skaters will push off with their feet to gain momentum in a street plaza. The first public outdoor skate plaza is the Vancouver Skate Plaza, built in 2004 by New Line Skateparks.
Flow parks combine elements of both bowl parks and street plazas. In a well designed flow park a skater can pump around the parks curved walls such as quarter pipes, pump bumps and bowl corners without taking their feet off to push. They can use that speed to hit street obstacles such as stairs, railings and benches.
Skateparks may be privately or publicly owned. Privately owned skateparks usually have admission fees, while publicly owned skateparks are generally free. Many privately owned skateparks are indoors, usually in warehouses, roller rinks or buildings with high ceilings, especially in areas with snowy winters. Public skateparks are usually outdoors.
Skatepark construction can be divided into two major categories — prefabricated and custom built concrete. Prefabricated parks can be made of wood, plastic, sheet metal, and concrete. Most are designed and built by playground equipment manufacturers who present these parks as a cost effective alternative to custom designed concrete skateparks. In reality, custom built concrete skateparks can be quite cost competitive with prefabricated skate ramps.
Concrete parks, now "pretty much the industry standard", according to an editor of Transworld Skateboarding magazine, they require fewer repairs and less maintenance.
- Quarter pipe – Literal quarter of a pipe. There is usually a narrow metal rod running the length of the top edge; this is called the coping. There may also be flat platform connected to it at the top; this is called the deck.
- Half-pipe – Two Quarter Pipes facing each other (half of a pipe).
- Spine – Two quarter pipes back to back.
- Bank – These can vary in angle but are simply wedge ramps for traversing obstacles, i.e. elevated flats.
- Flat - The flat lower areas, usually at or below grade.
- Deck - The flat elevated area used as a staging area above ramps and bowls.
- Vert wall – A vertical wall above, and sometimes slightly behind, a quarter pipe.
- Hip – Essentially two quarter pipes forming an angle.
- Funbox – A combination of banks, flats, rails, kickers, etc. connected to each other to form mini gaps.
- Pyramid – Funbox-type ramp made from four banks put in a square pyramid shape, usually surrounding a flat.
- Launcher/Kicker – A curved bank a rider uses to launch into the air.
- Roll-ins – A long sloping ramp used to gain speed.
- Step-up/Eurobox – A funbox type ramp consisting of a bank with a flat at the top and a second, higher flat after it; in other words a bank-to-flat setup with a section removed from the bank part.
- Wall-box - In an indoor skatepark, this is a funbox built against the wall of the park; in an outdoor skatepark, it is a funbox with a wall splitting it down the middle.
- Bowl – A circular pool.
- Pool – Usually an actual swimming pool that has been drained out for skateboarding.
- Foam Pit – A pile of foam pads to land safely into while learning tricks, usually found after a launch ramp.
- Flat rail – A rail set level with ground.
- Sloped rail - A rail set at an angle.
- Kinked rail - A rail with two flat sections, one higher than the other, and a sloped section in the middle connecting them.
- Stair – A simple staircase.
- Hand rail – A rail going with a staircase, either extended from the staircase or off an adjacent wall
- Cradle – Spherical bowl turned on its side, typically connected with a bowl. Enables inverted and over-vert carving
- Jersey barrier – often used as center dividers of roads. Skaters can wallride up them and grind if coping is emplaced along the top. Sometimes DIY skaters will pour cement on the sides to create a smoother transition, or even turn the barrier into a low spine.
- Alamosa Skatepark Environment – Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Bro Bowl – One of the last skateparks of the 70s, and one of the oldest skateparks in the U.S.; First public skatepark in Florida Tampa, Florida.
- Burnside Skatepark – Portland, Oregon featured in Tony Hawk video games and the movie Paranoid Park.
- Concrete Wave Country – Nashville's first public skatepark.
- etnies Skatepark, Lake Forest, CA – Largest free skatepark in California.
- FDR Skatepark – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- The Flow Skatepark – Columbus, Ohio – One of the largest indoor skateparks in the United States at 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2). CLOSED
- Hollywood Skatepark – Las Vegas, Nevada one of the U.S. largest outdoor concrete skateparks.
- Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark – 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) in-ground public facility in Houston, Texas.
- Louisville Extreme Park – Louisville, Kentucky.
- The Palm Springs Skatepark contains a replica of the Nude Bowl, which is the most popular feature in the park.
- Pedlow Skate Park – Encino, California great for pool skating, more than 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2).
- Santa Maria Skate Park – Fletcher Park. 700 Southside Pkwy, Santa Maria, California.
- Skatepark of Tampa – Skatepark in Tampa and home of the annual Tampa Pro.
- Skatopia – Anarchist Skatepark in Rutland, Ohio
- Turf Skatepark – Built in 1979, included five concrete pools in an indoor/outdoor facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (defunct since 1996).
- Delicious Skateboard Factory Park – Opened in 2005 with more than 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) of skate area. Designed and owned by Professional Freestyle Skater
- KONA Skatepark- Jacksonville, Florida- Oldest running skatepark in the U.S
- Tommy Harward.
- House Park - Austin, Texas
- Food Lion - Asheville, North Carolina
- Shaw Millennium Skatepark (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) – One the world's largest outdoor skateparks, designed by Spectrum Skateparks with Landplan associates.
- Stockwell Skatepark – South London, UK
- Harrow Skate Park – Harrow, UK
- Livingston skatepark, Livingston, Scotland – opened in 1981, is known worldwide for its transitions and bowls and was described by the cast of Dirty Sanchez as "the best skatepark in the world, except for the ones in Wales."
- Saughton Skate Park - Edinburgh, Scotland
- Popular Science Magazine, April 1966, p127
- Matt Soergel (July 1, 2007). "KONA". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Porstner, Donna, "Curve appeal / Area's new skate park opens", news article in The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, July 13, 2007, pp 1, A6
- "Etnies Skatepark Of Lake Forest Aerial". Retrieved 21 August 2010.
- "City of Palm Springs – Skate Park". Ci.palm-springs.ca.us. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Concrete Disciples – The most comprehensive worldwide Skatepark Directory and locator.
- The Justme Skatespot Guide – A directory of skateparks around the world with maps, footage and information.
- Skateboardpark – A directory of skateparks around the world.
- SkateSpotter – skatepark videos, photos, and maps
- SkateparkHunter – Skatepark Directory with photos and maps
- World Skateboarding Map – Community built map with videos and pictures
- Skate Parks Maps (extremesportsmap.com) – See worldwide skateparks on Google Maps
- Skateboard411 Skatepark Directory – Large skatepark directory with Google Maps feed
- iSKATEhere – Map-based directory of skateparks and skate spots around the world
- ChicagoSkateSpots.com – Online and Mobile directory for skate spots and parks in Chicago – Chicago Skate Spots online directory
- Sk8 Park at Burning Man in Black Rock City, NV – Participant created skatepark
-  – Source of skatepark guidance, technical assistance, and construction grants.