Skateboarding has a long and tricky history. It actually started over 50 years ago on the West Coast as an alternative for surfers when the waves were flat. The very first skateboard remains as mystery since a cluster of first generation boards popped up around the same time between the late 40s and early 50s.
By the 60s, skateboards were being manufactured across Southern California and mostly resembled mini surf boards with roller skate wheels. The early 60s ushered in the first golden era for Skateboarding. It's popularity grew rapidly and even saw one of its earliest Exhibitions in 1963. The following year, the first skateboarding magazine was published - The Quarterly Skateboarder.
Skateboarding began to decline around the late 1960s when claims began popping up about the sport being unsafe. Shops stopped selling them because parents stopped buying them. It wasn't until the following decade that skateboarding would see a resurgence in popularity.
The 70s saw another spike in skateboarding growth when Frank Nasworthy replaced traditionally metal or clay wheels with polyurethane. The new wheels improved traction and performance and led to a direct increase in skateboarding popularity. Skateboard manufacturers began to design and produce components specifically for skateboarding, which also allowed for greater maneuverability.
1975 saw the historic Del Mar National Championships, the largest skateboarding competition of its time. Up to 500 competitors were said to be present, among them the Zephyr Team. Later known as the Z-Boys, the Zephyr team introduced a progressive and radical skateboarding style heavily inspired by surfing. Their presence revolutionized skateboarding styles and solidified their place in skateboarding history.
With new technology improving maneuverability, traction, and performance, skateboarders were able to experiment, pushing the limits of conventional styles. In particularly, you saw the branching of street skating and vert skating. Vert coming from the word vertical, popularized by the increased use of empty swimming pools as skating grounds after the 1976 California drought.
Skateboarding did not lose steam as it rolled into the 80s. The majority of skateboard companies were owned by skateboarders, fueling the passion and innovation for gear and boards. This decade also saw the birth of the kickflip and the no-hands aerial (later known as the ollie) as skateboarders continued to experiment with tricks and styles.
The 90s were dominated by street skateboarding, and growth in popularity declined somewhat. The skateboard of today was finalized this decade - extremely hard but relatively small wheels, lighter boards, narrow and symmetrical. But by the time the new century rolled around, more minors were involved in skateboarding than baseball.
The 2000s began to see skateboarding as more pop culture than counter culture, utilizing this activity as a means to compliment academics. Much like sports, skateboarding programs were a non-traditional method to encourage physical activity, self-discipline, and confidence. Skateparks also experienced a resurgence in attendance and growth because of this. In 2003, Go Skateboarding day was founded on June 21"to define skateboarding as the rebellious, creative celebration of independence it continues to be." Three years later, there were 2400 skateparks established globally.
Skateboarding is now an internationally enjoyed recreational activity strongly associated with rebelliousness and independence.