On Go Skateboarding Day weekend I found myself staying at the Rutgers University campus in Camden, NJ. At first I was excited. Camden was yet another new city to explore and having the chance to see parts of Walt Whitman’s hometown was intriguing. However, based on my conversations with the other Teach for America members, nobody ever wants to spend anytime in Camden. After hearing some of the horror stories, reading statistics, and exploring a small sample size of the city, I can’t say I blame them either. Granted Camden has had unfortunate luck (such as corrupt mayors and bankruptcy) and the people I did meet were kind and helpful, it’s a city to avoid. Here’s a news segment from 2013 highlighting some of the issues Camden faces.
Here are a few photos I shot during my stay in Camden.
Hopefully Camden can continue to improve and become the city Whitman envisioned
“In a dream I saw a city invincible.”
One positive of staying in Camden was being only 15 mins away from Philadelphia. Having the opportunity to skate around Philadelphia and the historical LOVE Park was a dream come true, nonetheless on Go Skateboarding Day. One of the first skate videos I saw was The DC Video. Ever since watching AVE, Kalis, and Stevie Williams skating there, it’s always been a goal to at least visit the park.
I was joined by my future roommate Jonathan and fellow TFA corps member David to explore Philadelphia. They don’t skate, but Jonathan and David were great company and never complained about checking out the skate spots, even though to them each spot was just another bench, staircase, etc.. Thanks guys.
We took the subway over, which was a first for me, and headed straight towards LOVE Park. Now for anybody who doesn’t skateboard, I highly recommend checking out the following video from the beloved ON Video series (rip). ON did a fantastic job documenting the significance of LOVE and its impact on skateboarding.
Luckily, LOVE has become less of a bust since the release of the video and now you can see loads of new footage being released regularly from LOVE. But to clarify, skateboarding is still not allowed. If you see cops, security, or hear police sirens, book it. Or else you’ll receive a hefty fine and possibly have your board confiscated.
When we first arrived to the park tourists and pedestrians were telling me I should leave soon because the police had arrived. Sure enough about 20 feet away from Jonathan, David, and I was a group of skateboarders watching a fellow skateboarder getting his board confiscated. The scene was pretty surreal. Skateboarders were cursing and booing at the cop and as soon as the cops reinforcements arrived, people started running and skating off in various directions.
The spot itself is amazing. The ledges grind and slide smooth and somehow have managed to avoid becoming chunky. And yes, the fountain gap is huge.
After LOVE we headed over to Benjamin Franklin Parkway to check out some of the tourist hot spots. To our delight we ended up finding a free broadcast of the World Cup matches. We even stumbled upon some other skate spots as well.
After checking out the Art Museum, we decided to check out Municpal. Municpal is my favorite spot to skate in all of Philadelphia. There’s just so many different possibilities and a variety of fun things to skate. Municpal is also the home of the famous Dane Burman rail.* That thing is no joke. Even after seeing the footage, it is still had to believe somebody managed to skate that rail.
*Interestingly a lot of locals are sort of bummed Burman was the man to skate the rail. They frown on the idea of an outsider flying out to Philly just to do one trick. East Coast pride runs deep.
After skating Municpal for a while we ended up stopping at a bar conveniently named “Bar.” We rested our legs, watched some World Cup, drank some Philadelphia brewed beers, and gained some info on the city from the lovely bartender. She told us to check out South Philly for cheesesteaks and that’s exactly what we did. Philly cheesesteaks don’t play. Delicious.