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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Four gnarly places to skate, flip and grind in Philadelphia


The Philadelphia skateboard scene is a vigorous one and growing by the day. Major companies like Independent Trucks and Monster Energy hold multiple contests at various locations across the city, and local skateboarders are featured in major skateboarding magazines and sponsored by prominent brands such as Supreme and Deathwish. 

Having spent two years exploring the city on my skateboard, I’d like to share some of my favorite places to skate in Philadelphia. I use two criteria to rate each place: transition and street. Transition refers to the ramps (pools and half-pipes) and street refers to street obstacles (stair sets and handrails).

Photos of skate parks in Philadelphia.

FDR Skatepark

Transition rating: 10/10

Street rating: 5/10

Driving distance from Hawk Hill: 20 minutes

Driving distance from University City: 12 minutes

Public transportation options: A short skate from the Patterson Avenue stop of the NRG Station from the Broad Street Subway Line.

Under I-95 in the back corner of the Franklin D. Roosevelt City Park in South Philadelphia sits the Mecca of East Coast DIY skateboarding: FDR Skatepark. Piles of dirt, rocks, old tires and other rubbish support colossal concrete ramps, covered with spray paint, bursting with color and personality. 

“It’s really overwhelming at first, but once you see how people that go there a lot skate it, then you’ll understand the flow, and it will become less intimidating,” said skateboarder Christian McCarry ’24.

FDR isn’t just known for its towering quarter pipes and gnarly transitions; it also attracts the community of graffiti and street artists. Anytime you arrive at FDR, you can be sure that at least one section of a ramp or wall is still wet with spray paint. 

FDR Skatepark first started when the City of Philadelphia placed one single ramp under the bridge in 1996, in effort to get skateboarders away from LOVE Park across from City Hall in Center City. Since then, the skate community has taken over, funding and building countless features to create a concrete paradise for skateboarders.

“It’s in the best interest for skaters to build their own parks because skaters know parks better than anybody else, so it’s just beneficial,” McCarry said. “It also brings a community feeling when it’s DIY, because skaters worked together to build it.”

The bowls at FDR are not only massive, but also bumpy, rugged, and honestly, hard to skate. However that is also why the park is so beloved by skateboarders, for its crust. Getting a comfortable flow at this skatepark takes some getting used to, giving locals a major advantage. Skateboarders have to put in time to get comfortable at FDR. It’s like earning a badge. 

FDR is certainly the best skatepark in Philadelphia for transition skateboarders, and arguably the most notorious transition skatepark on the East Coast. There are ramps of every size and steepness at FDR, including many unique obstacles that you wouldn’t find at a professionally built skatepark. 

Photos of skate parks in Philadelphia.

Grays Ferry Crescent Skatepark

Transition rating: 8/10

Street rating: 1/10

Driving distance from Hawk Hill: 16 minutes

Driving distance from University City: 5 minutes

Public transportation options: Accessible from Hawk Hill via the 52 bus to the 49th & Woodland stop, and within skating distance of University City Campus.

Grays Ferry Crescent Skatepark is hidden under the Grays Ferry Bridge with a scenic view of the Schuylkill, a short distance away from University City. Grays Ferry is a smaller and more mellow transition skatepark with great flow. It gets complete coverage from the sun and rain (unless it’s really windy), so it is a perfect destination for a bad-weather day.

The park was built in 2013 by 5th Pocket Skateparks, a Pennsylvania company based out of Langhorne that has built many Philadelphia skateparks. Grays Ferry is known for its super smooth flow and loud pool coping. The park is designed for skaters to easily maintain speed, and when their metal trucks grind against the rough concrete pool coping, it makes a remarkable sound. 

Photos of skate parks in Philadelphia.

Paine’s Park

Transition rating: 2/10

Street rating: 9/10

Driving distance from Hawk Hill: 12 minutes

Driving distance from University City: 10 minutes

Public transportation options: A short skate from 30th Street Station

Paine’s Park sits next to the Philadelphia Art Museum and legendary Rocky Steps, right alongside the Schuylkill River Trail. Rather than being ramp-heavy like most skateparks, Paine’s Park is designed to mimic obstacles that you could find in the streets. Paine’s would be considered a “street plaza” rather than a skatepark, made to have the environment of street skateboarding on property that actually allows it.

Paine’s Park features lots of benches and rails for grinding, brick ramps and many stair sets with ledges and handrails. Paine’s also has multiple original granite edges and tiles from the legendary LOVE Park. It’s not my favorite— I don’t like any of the transitions at Paine’s, but it’s a great place to practice your street game.

Photos of skate parks in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Municipal Services Building

Transition rating: 0/10

Street rating: 10/10

Driving distance from Hawk Hill: 15 minutes

Driving distance from University City: 10 minutes

Public transportation options: A short skate from Suburban Station

You can’t discuss places to skateboard in Philadelphia without having the Municipal Service Building in the conversation, commonly called “Muni.” Muni sits directly across from City Hall, surrounded by the towering skyscrapers of Center City.

Although Muni was not designed for skateboarding, it seems to be the most popular destination for Philadelphia skateboarders in recent years. 

Since LOVE Park closed for renovations in 2013, skateboarders were looking for a natural spot in the streets of Philly where they could gather the community and practice their craft. Muni offers just that: a stable space that isn’t designed for skateboarding, but is still great for it, right in the middle of Center City. 

No matter what time of day or night, when you go to Muni, you can be sure to see other skateboarders there. Prominent skateboarders are at Muni daily, such as Jahmir Brown, Efron Danzig and Brian O’Dwyer, who recently got the spot featured on the cover of Thrasher Magazine’s October 2022 issue.

“Most times you go, there will be pro skaters,” said Collin Wolf ’26, who likes to skate at Muni. “The last time that my buddy went while I was gone for Fall Break, he skated with Kader [Sylla], who is one of the most popular young skaters right now. I mean, he’s really, really big for that company Supreme that everyone loves.”

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Max Kelly
Max Kelly, Website Manager/Multimedia Editor
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