History of Skateboarding

History of Skateboarding

Skateboarding is labeled as an active sport since it involves much movement such as riding and tricks performance with a skateboard. The history of skateboarding made this favorite outdoor activity more than just cruising around or a hobby of teenagers who want to look cool. It has been considered a lifestyle. It is considered as a recreational activity, an art form, an entertainment industry job, and even a means of transportation.

Over the years, skateboarding went through a kind of evolution.  It has been formed, determined and developed by many skateboarders. According to a 2009 report, it was said that the estimated skateboarding market’s worth is $4.8 billion in annual revenue and 11.08 million active skateboarders all across the globe, and recently it was made public that skateboarding will be represented at the most awaited 2020 Summer Olympics.

Learn the History of Skateboarding

The Birth of Skateboarding

The history of skateboarding was possibly started during the late 1940s or the early 1950s. Surfing is said to be the source of skateboarding. That time California surfers opted to do something while the waves go flat.

Some surfers got the idea to transfer the feeling of riding waves onto the streets. This gave rise to “sidewalk surfing” This is a new wave of surfing on the sidewalk as it became more well known. Actually, no one knows who made the first board. Although several people have claimed to have invented the skateboard first, it has remained unproven.

Here are the facts about the birth of skateboarding:

  • The first skateboards were made with wooden boxes, or boards and the roller skate wheels that were attached to the bottom of the deck without bearings. Early skaters emulated the surfing styles and maneuvers and performed barefooted.
  • California and Hawaii were the two spots where a certain kind of skateboard was developed for the first time in the early 1950s. The first manufactured skateboards came from the order by a surf shop in Los Angeles, California. It was meant to be used by surfers in their downtime. The shop owner named Bill Richard made a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company.
  • In the late 1950s, skateboarding had its first peak. During the post-war period, the U.S. economy affected the toy industry. The toy industry became aware of the board with wheels. In 1959, Roller Derby released their first official skateboard having some new technical developments. As a result, the handling characteristics have been improved resulting in developments of new tricks and maneuvers.

The Rising Popularity of Skateboarding

Between the years 1959 and 1965, skateboarding became more well known in the United States namely the states on the east and west coasts. The industrial development has made the skateboard’s status changed from toys to sports equipment. During  1962, the surf shop in Hollywood was the first seller of their sold their first own skateboards. These boards were made of a surfboard shape as well as roller skate trucks. These were sold in the shop as complete boards.

Here are the events that slowly made skateboarding popular:

  • Patterson Forbes, a company, developed the first industrially produced complete boards in 1962 with more developed trucks.
  • In 1963, Larry Stevenson, the publisher of the “Surf Guide Magazine” came up with the first ever ad for skateboards. A next big leap was the development of the shape of the boards. Larry Stevenson invented his “kicktail“. It came a lot more possibilities to ride a skateboard.
  • Another event in 1963 was the first skating contest in Hermosa Beach, California. As skateboarding began to expand, the first skateboarding magazine “The Quarterly Skateboarder” was published in 1964. At the same time, the clothing industry dealt more and more on skateboarding.
  • In fact, one of the most famous skateboarding shoe brand “Vans” was established in 1966. This day has started the support of Vans to all skateboarders all over the world. Also, shoe companies like Etnies, Converse, Vans, and DC Shoes created and designed skateboarding footwear.
  • One of the earliest sponsored skateboarders, Patti McGee, traveled around the country to demonstrate safety tips and perform skateboarding exhibitions. Some of the famous skateboarders include Woody Woodward, Danny Bearer, Bruce Logan, Torger Johnson, Bill, and Mark Richards, and Jim Fitzpatrick.
  • The growth of the sport was evident in sales figures for Makaha, got $10 million worth of board sales between 1963 and 1965. By 1966, some source began to claim that skateboarding was dangerous, this made shops reluctant to sell them, and parents hesitated to buy them. As a result, the popularity of skateboarding declined and stayed low until the early 1970s.

The Invention of Polyurethane Skateboard Wheels

In the 1970s, everything changed for skateboarding. Frank Nasworthy’s invention of polyurethane wheels in 1972 made it’s coming back. He started the company Cadillac Wheels and thanks to the new material the ride became smoother, faster and more comfortable. Disciplines such as freestyle, downhill, and slalom underwent a real high point.

Here are the results of the discovery or invention of polyurethane skateboard wheels:

  • It led to the publication of new magazines like the “Skateboarder Magazine” and new events were launched in 1975. The first artificially created skate park after a year and it was inaugurated and new parks emerged having new elements such as vertical ramps and kickers.
  • In the mid-1970s, skateboarding made its way to Germany. It was brought by the American soldiers and by 1976 Munich became the first German skateboard center. In that place, the first skate park was built, and first skateboard magazines were published and in 1978 the first German skateboard championships transpired in Munich. Each rider rolled up with their individual styles and developed new tricks, developing skateboarding hardware. This resulted to shapes changing, boards wider, got more concave and they featured nose and tail.
  • Alan Gelfand came up with a new movement in 1978 that gave skateboarding a giant leap, called the “Ollie.” It is believed to be the best trick ever invented and completely changed skateboarding. It gave birth to street skateboarding!

The Emergence of Skateboarding Styles and Tricks

Rodney Mullen moved “Ollie”  onto the streets for different maneuvers this resulted in a new style of skateboarding. Street skateboarding had developed more and more and became very well-known aside from fun sports activities, such as BMX and inline skating.

Here are the historical events that led to the emergence and popularity of skateboarding styles and tricks:

  • In 1981, the magazine “Thrasher Magazine” came to penetrate the skateboarding world. From that time on, this magazine has stood for skateboarding at the street, which became the core scene, and known as the progressive rock and eventually the lifestyle line which was about skating and destroying.  In 1983, “Transworld Skateboarding Magazine”, another famous magazine, came to existence.
  • Next, to these magazines, some smaller magazines were made more skate shops opened. The popularity of skateboarding continued to grow after many magazines existed. Worldwide dissemination of new tricks and unseen skate maneuvers gave rise to the first skate videos on VHS since then videography has become increasingly important.
  • A man, Titus Dittmann was a great aid in the development of skateboarding in Germany. He got skate-related products from the US then organized contests and events for various skateboarding events. One of the biggest international skateboarding competitions in the 1980s is the “Münster Monster Mastership”. This event made skateboarding more famous in Germany.
  • To be professional skateboarder was a good way of earning money from the mid-1980s on and the skateboard industry boomed in the US.
  • Companies like Santa Cruz, Powell Peralta, and Vision led the international market for high-quality skateboarding shoes in the 1980s. Shoes by Vans, Converse or Vision made their flagships for the skateboarding scene.

The Peak Success of Skateboarding

In the early 1990s, the increase of various trends sport made skateboarding go through deeper; thus, skateboarding went down. However, digitalization kept skate boarding’s spirit. From the mid-1990s, the modern skateboarding underwent a next high phase and it continues up to this date. In fact, mega-events like the “X-Games” made its way to launching and televising.

Here are the historical events that led to the peak success of skateboarding:

  • Numerous magazines, all the events, videos, and the internet brought skateboarding worldwide.
  • Brands like Flip Skateboards, Chocolate, and Girl Skateboards developed skateboarding hardware. As a result, skateboarders could buy high-quality skateboards in every bigger city.
  • Other signs of skate boarding’s popularity are the big and worldwide known events of “Street League”. It is a contest series for international pro skaters. The greatest street skateboarders, like Eric Koston, Nyjah Huston, Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, Andrew Reynolds, and Torey Pudwill were all here. This big event has finally made skateboarding a professional sport.
  • Meanwhile, in Germany, street skating is the most popular discipline contests. The Europeans and Germans’ skate scene is independent. They came up with their own industry as well as pros and a national contest series. This only shows how big the role of skateboarding is worldwide.
  • In 2001, skateboarding had become more established. In fact, about 10.6 million below 18 years old took skateboards than preferred basketball which has 8,000,000.2 million only. Therefore, skateboarding and skate parks were used in new ways like complementing academic lessons in schools. These were used to have better attendance, self-discipline, and confidence.
  • Skateboarding was seen as important in promoting health and bring participants for muscle endurance, bone strengthening, and balance as well as social networking, mutual respect, appreciation of the environment, and artistic expression.

Introducing Skateboarding as a Sport

By 2003, Go Skateboarding Day was founded in southern California which promotes skateboarding throughout the world. It is celebrated on June 21 with the motto “to define skateboarding as the rebellious, creative celebration of independence it continues to be.” Between 1999 and 2000, the number of skateboarders worldwide increased by more than 60 percent from 7.8 million to 12.5 million, according to the market research firm, American Sports Data.

Here are the major influences and contributions in the introduction of skateboarding as a sport:

  • Many cities also started recreation plans and statutes as part of their vision for local parks and communities to make public lands open for skateboarding. There were over 2,400 skate parks worldwide as skaters turned designers by 2006.
  • The program”Safe Spot Skate Spot” was started by professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek for a lower cost. One of the largest locations ever built to skateboard in the world is the SMP Skatepark in China. It has 12,000 square meters in size with a 5,000-seat stadium.
  • In 2009, Skate lab founded and opened the Skateboarding Hall of Fame & Skateboard Museum. The International Association of Skateboard Companies chose the nominees. A lot of efforts were needed for the recognition of the cultural heritage and the positive effects of encouraging skateboarding in designated spaces.
  • In the 2010s, electric skateboards came to popularity with self-balancing unicycles in a board format.
  • In 2015, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., came up with the skateboarding event accompanied by music and tricks were performed on a ramp constructed for a festival. It changed a federal institution formerly off-limits to the skateboarding community into a platform of community that shows importance through shared cultural action in a cultural common space.
  • The Long Live Southbank raised £790,000 to stop the destruction of a forty years old spot in London. The activity caught the attention of photographers and filmmakers and a number of tourists.
  • Recently, many skaters ride barefoot in South Africa, Australia, Spain, and South America. This is done with the plastic penny board which is intended to be ridden barefoot. This is the surfboard-inspired hamboard.
  • Apart from just being a recreation, making skateboarding a sport has also become a job for a lot of people. The increasing networking inside the skate scene will definitely make skateboarding grow and bring more innovations and developments in the future. But for most people, skateboarding is and will be a hobby and an attitude to life.

Skateboarding Became a Lifestyle

One of the benefits of skateboarding is that it is an individual activity. It means there is no right or wrong way to do skating. Until now, this sport still hasn’t stopped changing and innovating, and skaters never run out of new styles always.

Boards are always undergoing innovations since makers don’t stop to make them lighter and stronger or improve their performance. It has always been about personal discovery and pushing oneself to the limit, but no one knows where it is going. It depends on wherever skaters continue to take it but one important thing that all skaters should know is how the history of skateboarding started and understand what it truly is.

Most Famous Skateboarders

1. Bam Margera or Brandon Cole Margera

This famous skateboarder from Pennsylvania, USA, is known for Jackass with the farthest reaching. He is a Jackass star who is a professional skateboarder. Bam Bam started skateboarding at a very young age and turned pro in the late 1990s.

2. Tony Hawk or Anthony Frank Hawk

He is a famous skateboarder from California, USA, who became popular because of landing the first-ever 900, a trick wherein he spun two and a half times on a skateboard. His participation in the Bones Brigade made his first shot to fame, making him as one of the most excellent skateboarders of all time.

3. Rob Dyrdek or Robert Stanley Dyrdek

He is a famous skateboarder from Ohio, USA who has a reality TV show, the Fantasy Factory, wherein cameras follow him around his warehouse filled with all types of toys and vehicles, and a skatepark, highlighting professional skateboarding. Dyrdek got sponsored at the age of 12. He is the founder of the Street League Skateboarding competition.

4. Jason Lee or Jason Michael Lee

Jason Lee is from California, USA, who is famous for the sitcom, My Name Is Earl. He was a professional skateboarder in the 18990s who appeared in the famous Blind Skateboard’s Video Days, which was directed by Spike Jonez. The video remains as one of the most respected skateboard videos of all time, featuring Lee and Mark Gonzales, as well as other skaters of those times.

5. Leticia Bufoni or Letícia Bufoni e Silva

She is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who is famous for zero literal balls and gigantic metaphorical balls. Bufoni is a regular skateboarder seen on the competition, with numerous Dew Tour results and six X Games medals. She finished the 1st place in the 2015 Street League. She posed naked in 2015 for the ESPN body issue to show the body of an athlete and promote fitness. She’s the best first-time lady skateboarder who penetrated the famous list of skateboarders in the history of skateboarding.


Indeed, the history of skateboarding shows its humble beginnings. From surfboard ideas, wooden boxes to toys with wheels, skateboarding has evolved into something we see and use today. Also, from a simple hobby, skateboarding has eventually turned into a mode of transportation and a form of sport. Also, we would not experience the benefits of skateboarding without the famous people behind the success of this sport.


  1. Titus Dittman – Wikipedia
  2. How Its Made – 187 Skateboards – How Its Made (Youtube.com)
  3. How Skateboarding Works – entertainment.howstuffworks
  4. MTV History of Skateboarding – Pt 1 – underpass61 (Youtube.com)


2 thoughts on “History of Skateboarding”

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