- Jennifer BallAtlanta Downtown
- Patricia Kerlin
Save Black Blocks!
The northeast corner of Baker Street and Piedmont Avenue is no ordinary city block.
For over two decades, this spot -- known to some as Black Blocks -- beckoned skateboarders with its painted ground, granite ledges, and metal benches, providing the perfect place to converge, to meet up, to practice a craft uninhibited, and to enjoy the sights, sounds, and culture of the downtown Atlanta area. Unbeknownst to most, Black Blocks is world famous as one of the United States' leading organic skateboard spots. Originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games, the spot garnered skateboarders' attention almost immediately. Unlike most skate spots, however, Black Blocks was bust-free, meaning that the city of Atlanta didn't punish skateboarders for utilizing public space that would otherwise be overrun by vagrants or other undesirables. Thanks to this, Atlanta soon found itself on the skateboarding map for the first time in years, and Black Blocks found itself featured in films as prestigious as Krooked Kronichles, Menikmati, PJ Ladd's Wonderful Horrible Life, and Stay Gold, as well as widely distributed publications such as Thrasher Magazine. It's not a stretch to call the spot an epicenter of skateboarding throughout the southeast, and I know of hundreds of people who'd never visit Atlanta for the World of Coca-Cola or the Georgia Aquarium, but found themselves in the city for the sole purpose of skating Black Blocks.
As mentioned earlier, skateboarders have enjoyed the benefits of Black Blocks for over twenty years, completely uninhibited. However, just past noon on September 19, skateboarders found the area fenced off for unspecified and unannounced reconstruction. Upon further investigation, we've learned that the city of Atlanta plans on remodeling and installing skateboarding deterrents at Black Blocks. This is a major blow to the southeastern skateboard scene, and it's alarming to see a major metropolitan city taking such measures in an attempt to erase a huge part of their culture and their ties to skateboarding history, especially it being mere months after skateboarding was nominated for the Olympic program. We, the skateboarders of Atlanta, insist that Jennifer Ball and Patricia Kerlin -- the minds behind this step backwards -- reconsider their position and recognize Black Blocks for the good it's brought about in the skateboarding community. Black Blocks is not, and has never been, a burden on the neighborhood. Rather, it's a place for old friends to meet, for new friendships to form, for kids to learn a healthy hobby, and for star artists and talents to get their practice in. Take skateboarding away, and the corner will be overrun by bums, drug addicts, vandals, and similar ilk. Major cities worldwide, including New York City, London, and Berlin, have had major success with multi-use public parks that are open to pedestrians, but designed with the act of skateboarding in mind, and we're beyond willing to work with officials to finalize a similar design. Atlanta prides itself on being a forward-thinking city. Hopefully, our community will be able to propose a forward-thinking solution that's beneficial for the entire downtown area, skateboarders included.
Keep southeastern skateboarding alive. Keep skateboarding legal at Black Blocks.
- Atlanta Downtown
- Patricia Kerlin
Save Black Blocks!
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