Lords of Dogtown

Hyattsville’s newest park shows how far skateboarding has come.

Back in the “Dogtown and Z-Boys” era of the 1970s, skateboarding had an illicit reputation, especially since most skaters were doing their grinds and kickflips on benches, sidewalks and empty swimming pools.

Even municipalities that wanted to build skate parks found the insurance costs were prohibitive. (At one point, they were $60,000 a year, according to the Skate Park Association of the USA.)

But as a generation of skaters put away their boards and took up office jobs at city halls — and especially at insurance companies — minds began to change. Though skateboarders do get injured, most of the time it’s just a sprain, and the most serious injuries came from being hit by a car, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Skateboarders routinely argue that the sport is safer than football.

And here’s the twist: Skate parks are now seen as a way to reduce crime. All those skateboarders hanging out are extra sets of eyes that discourage thefts and assaults. (Portland, Ore., began putting them under bridges and other crime hotspots.)

All this makes Hyattsville’s new skateboarding site at Melrose Park along Route 1 near the Anacostia River a smart bet. Since the only other skate parks in Prince George’s County are in Bowie and Greenbelt, it’s sure to be a draw, and recent visits showed the park was being well-used already.

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2 Responses to Lords of Dogtown

  1. Fellow Traveler says:

    As a new resource for those of us interested in Hyattsville and as assistance to many, please include location references in your articles. There was no location given in the ‘Lords of Dogtown’ article with this first sentence: Hyattsville’s newest park shows how far skateboarding has come. I believe a “newest park” deserves a mention of the location.

    Thanks and Best Wishes for the HyattsvilleWire.

  2. Good point! Melrose Skate Park is at the corner of U.S. 1 (Rhode Island Ave.) and Armentrout Drive, on the southern edge of the city near the Anacostia River.

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