If you look at San Francisco a little differently, you'll start to see skateboarding spots everywhere. That's what the sport does: radically repurpose the urban landscape. Steps are for leaping off, handrails are for grinding on, and hills are for bombing down. To guide skaters new to town, or to skating, as well as to treat non-skaters to a glimpse of the skate world around us, SFist turned to one of our favorite photographers, Sean Carabarin, who has been documenting the skate scene in San Francisco for more than a decade. Carabarin helped curate these spots, which range from sanctioned parks to well-worn ledges still devoid of skatestoppers. Oh, and for those unafraid of a little speed, our paved hills are a main attraction. For more on that, here's a dose of history from TransWord SKATEboarding:
"[Skateboarding] is my favorite subject to shoot," Carabarin once told the popular local skate supply company FTC. "The best part of shooting skateboarding is what happens behind the scenes, it’s not just the trick I try to capture, but my surroundings and the people I’m with." Have a look at Carabarin's blog, or for your daily fix of his shots, give him a follow on Instagram.
The Island/Justin Herman Plaza/The Embarcadero
San Francisco's iconic skate spots like the Embarcadero — known to the in-crowd as EMB — and Justin Herman Plaza aren't just popular contemporary spots to skate, they're the cradle of street skating itself. In a complete history of the area, the Ride Channel called it "one of the most storied spots in skateboarding," with stars like Mark Gonzales and Mike Carroll breaking new ground, inventing new tricks and styles, and marking their territory there. For a literal example, see the Gonz gap, named for the former.
SoMa West Skatepark
Carabarin likes San Francisco's most recently added skatepark because it's centrally located near transit and has "hella good food" within striking distance. The park was "designed to reflect iconic San Francisco spots," writes SF Rec and Parks, "with a special nod to ... Justin Herman Plaza." You don't say.
Photo: Sean Carabin
Potrero Del Sol Skatepark
"BBQs, beers, friends and shenanigans" is how Carabarin summarizes the scene at the typically sunny Potrero Del Sol. There, an enticing bowl gets high marks from fans as the best park of the park.
Photo: Sean Carabarin
3rd & Army
If the scene at Potrero Del Sol isn't your thing, head down here: "It's a great place to skate with your friends away from the people in the city," Carbarin says. Still going by its former name — Army became Chavez in 1995 — this spot at the end of Indiana by the Islais Creek channel is known for its surplus of ledges.
Photo: Sean Carabarin
Fort Miley, a former military reservation atop Point Lobos, is much more than an inert landmark. "This spot has been skated for ages," Carabarin says, and with "amazing views of ocean beach" and "hours of fun on the old bunkers and BBQ pits," it likely will be for ages to come.Photo: Sean Carabarin