Want proof that San Francisco is a skate town?
The new park underneath the Central Freeway, between Valencia and Otis streets near Zeitgeist bar, has been teeming with skaters since opening July 1.
“It’s hella packed,” as a young Mission skater, and therefore expert skate critic, told us yesterday afternoon. Once an empty Caltrans lot and now a smoothed over expanse with a concrete-and-aluminum skin, the new park is, “So much better than most skate parks,” said the 19-year-old skate critic, called “Migo.”
“They shoulda called it ‘Mission Skate Park,’ though.”
Called SoMa West Skate Park, and the second official skate park in the Mission, this street sports venue has been in the works since 2009. Some $2.25 million went into its creation – skate legend Tony Hawk chipped in. The city agreed to lease the land from Caltrans for 20 years.
Migo the Critic wore a cap from Dirty Pigeon (a Mission skate shop). He was with four skater teens on 21st Street, about a mile from SoMa West. They were waiting for the early crowds to thin before returning to the new park.
One skater said they had jumped the fence and “sessioned” while the park was under construction. They all had shredded during normal hours, too. And they praised SoMa West’s design, by Newline Skateparks, Inc. The park’s features cater to both skater camps – those who like vert skating and those who like street skating. (One is more about ramps, the other is about tricks, like you’d do in public spaces.)
“I’d give it (an) 8.5,” said Mateo Garcia, 17, another authority and friend of Migo’s.
There’s something already adding to the new park’s cool-factor, Mateo said: There’ve been sightings of skate icons there — Rumors place thrashers officially sponsored by skate companies at SoMa, like Frank Gerwer, backed by Anti-Hero.
(And if you’re a pet owner in the area, you might think it’s cool SoMa has a $1 million, adjacent dog park.)
There are a handful of skate parks in San Francisco. The first was built in Hunters Point in the 1970s — the design reflects that. Called “The Dish,” it’s shaped like a big, shallow serving bowl.
John McLaren Park, in the Excelsior District, got the city’s second skate park. Crocker-Amazon is just off Geneva Avenue, beside the new soccer fields. There’s Balboa, a Mission Terrace skate park made of wood.
In the Mission, at 25th and Utah streets, is Potrero del Sol/La Raza skate park, the biggest in San Francisco. It’s Migo the Critic’s favorite. On a 10-point scale, he gave it a “10.5.”
When asked whether San Francisco is a skate mecca or not, talk turned to its street skateboarding. The group approves of “smashing down” Mission Street, or “smashing up and down” 24th Street – a flat road amenable to wheels.
“San Francisco is known for skating,” Migo said. “Because of the hills and stuff.”
Mateo added: “This is most definitely a skate town. And now a skate neighborhood!”