America's Hidden Plazas
The news of Philadelphia's slated remodeling of Municipal Plaza in 2018 has skateboarders all over North America agonizing about the future of the modern plaza in skateboarding. The cultural status of the inner-city plaza is dwindling as it is, and if Philadelphia can go from having three amazing plazas to none in the span of hardly two years, what's next to disappear? Washington, D.C.'s Pulaski Park? Boston's Eggs? Atlanta's Black Blocks? Fortunately for us, there seems to be a particular strain of skateboarder dedicated to keeping the allure of the plaza alive. What's more, we've done our research, and here are a few great lesser-known plazas around the United States for those willing to take a drive to keep the tradition going.
Syracuse's Everson Plaza has been going strong since the turn of the century. The spot, located at a museum of modern art, offers a variety of Love Park-esque ledges, ranging from curbs to thigh-highs, some mellow stair sets, and plenty of smooth flatground -- staples of any traditional plaza. Unlike many other spots we've encountered, the exposed fountain remains a water hazard, so half step here and you may lose your board in the drink. One really unique aspect of the Everson Museum of Art is the amazing sculptures that surround the building. Kerry Getz made the best use of these sculptures as seen in an issue of SLAP Magazine from 2002. Notable appearances in videos include the Nike grassroots boys, who kill the big ledge in CORE, the 5Boro NYC - E-Z Pass Vacation Tour from 2002, Jake Johnson's Welcome to Brick Harbor Edit, and even Aaron Suski would frequent the Everson back as far as '99. According to Quartersnacks, this spot is officially bust-free, so anyone who manages to break away from the allure of New York City and head upstate for a few days needs to put Everson on their to-do list. Major props to the Cornerstore Bodega crew in Syracuse for cataloging all of the amazing skateboarding that has gone down here.
Located at the foot of the Detroit river, Hart Plaza has been skated intermittently for at least a decade, though we have to admit we're a little sketchy on dates (let's not pretend Detroit is a landmark skate city). The main attraction at this sprawling park is the hefty black marble slab located under the 'Transcending' monument, often skated as a manual pad to gap, like Josh Wilson in 56,000, or a quick-up gap over the stairs, like Brian Downey in Local Express, as well as a less-frequented out-ledge, skated by Casper Brooker in Vase. Retreat underground and skate the covered six-stair rail that Chris Jones f/s shoved backside 50-50ed in Vase, or the ledge that Mark Suciu and Yaje Popson skated in their Search the Horizon and Alien Workshop welcome parts, respectively. Locals have been known to get anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours here, so don't be surprised if Hart Plaza's variety of terrain becomes the new hot spot for the Midwest.
Nestled between the South Branch Chicago River and Lake Michigan is Chase Plaza. Sunken into the ground at the foot of the Chase Tower are a number of granite benches (some with flat gaps between them), high flatbars, and out ledges, all surrounded by stairs, handrails, and some not-quite-vertical walls that are perfect for wallrides. The spot's most recent video appearance was resident pro Silas Baxter Neal's gap over a rail to frontside wallride down the stairs in Away Days, though you may know the spot better from Mark Dunning's excellent Deep Dish video series. As the name suggests, Chase Plaza is privately owned and security is generally onto you within ten minutes, give or take. As such, those elongated sessions will have to wait until late-nights and holidays.
Arguably the hidden gem of plaza spots, Nashville's Legislative Plaza has something for everybody and is a must stop on any respectable plaza hunter's bucket list. The main courtyard boasts the obvious attractions, including some smaller stair sets and ledge, a massive eighteen star straddled by rails and banks, made famous by Fred Gall's opening line in Photosynthesis, and a massive gap to ledge alongside the fountain that, to our knowledge, only Brandon Westgate has skated (twice!). However, hidden on the left side of the building are a number of granite ledges and manual pads that are perfect in height, length, and placement to string together lines. Ross Norman joined the elite society of skaters to film spot-exclusive video parts in 2014, with the release of his Legislative-based Threads part, a feat made even more impressive when you consider the spot's high bust factor. As you might have surmised, Legislative is, in fact, a government building, and they generally don't take kindly to skateboarders. As such, your time here is limited to evenings, weekends, and holidays.
So, what spots of yours did we forget? Let us know below in the comments!