The Lower East Side skater magnet recently underwent a two-month, $400,000 overhaul. Here, a portfolio from opening weekend at the city’s coolest place to shred.
Jennifer Soto, 16
Do you get more attention at the skatepark because you’re a girl? Of course if you’re the only girl at the park, people are going to watch you. I used to get so nervous I couldn’t even skate. I’m more sociable now. Are the standards lower for female skaters? If you talk to a lot of girl skaters, they would say yeah. But I’m not a girl skater. I’m just a skater.
Diego Heyde, 8
How long have you been skating? Since I was 3. What do you like about it? You don’t have to walk; you have wheels on, so you get to places faster. Spoken like a true New Yorker. Do you think you’ll skate forever? Oh, I’ll never stop. I’m supposed to be pro by 14. What do you need to do between now and then? I have to learn the two basic tricks: the ollie and the nollie. The nollie I can already do, but if I could do both of them, I could do anything.
Sofien Saket, 15
What happened to your wrist? I fucked it up bombing a hill. I also broke my face. Sounds painful. You should see the X-ray. I went for a drop-in, slid out, and just ate it. I had three fractures. Why not take a break? When I got into skateboarding, I signed a contract: I knew I was going to get hurt. This is me following through on that contract.
Marquis Blondel, 15
Does skating make you popular with the girls? Yeah. But I’m popular without it, too. I used to play basketball and was like, This is too easy. I wanted a challenge. Skateboarding used to be a white-boy thing. Now, not so much. I get offended when people say skating is for white people. Black, white, or Spanish like me—we’re just having fun.
Brandon Brumell, 14
What are your best tricks? Like, my favorite is the fakie half-cab flip. Come again? It’s when you’re riding fakie, like in the opposite direction. See, my stance is goofy, so I ride goofy, and then I go in a fakie and do a 180 kick-flip. Right. What do adults think when they see you? That we’re troublemakers. But we skate to keep out of trouble.
Wilfredo Ayala, 17
Where do you skate? Everywhere: LES, Canarsie, Far Rock, 157 by Yankee Stadium … lately I’ve been going from the Bronx to Astoria. I don’t have money for the train so I just skate there. I like to bond with my skateboard. Like, holding onto a car when you’re riding and jumping down flights of stairs. I push my limits to the edge.
Thomas Lara, 16
You are rocking some seriously seventies hair. Yeah. Everyone loves my hair. I’d give up cell phones and computers to live back then. How come? That’s when music was at its pinnacle. What do you think of the new park? The remodeling is awesome. It’s actually kind of slippery because it’s so clean. Have you gotten hurt? I fractured my elbow; otherwise, I take a few slams and get right back up. It sucks, but it’s too much fun to stop.
Kevin Teran, 16
How often are you here? Eight hours a day. Sometimes twelve. How do your parents feel about that? They don’t like it. My mom thinks I just cruise; she doesn’t know I skate ledges and stairs. She’s scared. So how will she feel when she reads this? Well, she likes that I’m not in the street. I’m in a nice skate park, not doing drugs or other bad things.
Justin Casado, 14
Are you here a lot? Yeah, I go every single day. The concrete is perfect. When you fall—and everybody falls—it doesn’t hurt as much. Before they redid it, you would go wearing a white shirt and leave with a black one, it was so dirty. What do you like about skateboarding? The community. Everyone is friends. And when you do tricks, it feels so good. Because you get props? Nah, props doesn’t matter. It’s just the feeling that you have in yourself. It’s, like, success.