Taking cues from the exhibition of the same title, the mural I Was a Teenage Skateboarder in the ’90s highlights the street skateboarding scene in Vancouver during the early 1990s. The images of this photo collage feature some of Vancouver’s iconic skate spots and skaters from this formative era, when skateboarding was coming into its own and a revolution was being defined in the city streets.
Vancouver figured prominently in the skateboarding world of the ’90s, producing many top pros. The Richmond Skate Ranch, an indoor skatepark in operation from 1998 to 1993, drew the best skaters from around the world and was also the training ground for a group of pros known as the Red Dragons. Its closure forced many skaters to seek new terrain—they began to see the city as an infinite playground where one’s creativity and physical ability were the only limitations.
Although people were skateboarding across Canada during this time, Vancouver’s famous skate spots made it an international destination. Slam City Jam, a skateboard competition hosted in Vancouver from 1994 to 2005, further situated it as a “skateboard city.” Downtown Vancouver, with its marble ledges, handrails, and stairs, became famous through the distribution of skate videos. This reimagining of space, however, created confrontations with business owners, security guards, and police.
The original Ambleside Skatepark was built in 1996 and was an early example of a public outdoor street-style plaza skatepark, built partly in response to the increasing tension between skaters and city authorities. Plaza parks (in contrast to bowls) emulate the architecture and landscape of the street. Skatepark design continued to evolved rapidly in the late ’90s and early ’00s, as skateboarders once again found acceptance in more mainstream culture. In 2016, Ambleside Skatepark underwent a massive rebuild and was reopened as the Peter Sullivan Skatepark. Peter Sullivan was a teenage skateboarder in the ’90s.
Presented in partnership with
District of West Vancouver and Ferry Building Gallery