If you’re a skateboarder, then you’ve probably heard of Burnside Skatepark. This legendary spot in Portland, Oregon is one of the most famous skateparks in the world. It’s been featured in countless videos and magazines, and it’s a must-visit destination for any skater traveling through the area.
The most renowned skatepark in the world, Burnside, was built illegally and privately funded by skaters of Portland. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at Burnside Skatepark and explore why it’s so popular among skateboarders!
Where Is Burnside Skatepark?
Burnside skatepark is in Portland, Oregon underneath the Burnside Bridge. The park is located on the east side of the Willamette River.
SE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97232
The park’s success is a direct result of the work of Burnside Skatepark’s unique group of builders, who were inspired by their desire to maintain and grow what they loved. The hard work and dedication blossomed into one of the best skateparks in the world. The Burnside Skate Park, as well as its creators, are instigators and pioneers, laying the groundwork for skateparks built by communities across the United States.
Pro Tip: If you’re not a local, then it’s usually a good idea to bring some beverages to share with the locals. Most people that skate Burnside skatepark had a hand in building it up into what it is today, so it’s a good gesture.
Can You Ride BMX At Burnside?
If you’re not a skateboarder, you might be wondering if you can ride your bike at Burnside. The answer is kind of. On Sundays, bicycles are permitted at Burnside Skate Park.
It’s kind of an unwritten rule of the park. Considering that it is built, maintained, and ridden by the locals, the rule should be followed. The park was built on chaotic terms and the laws of the park remain enforced by the same anarchic individuals.
What the locals say, goes. If they don’t want you there, they’ll make it known. It’s their park so you need to play by their rules.
History Of Burnside Skatepark
Burnside skatepark began construction by local skaters in the summer of 1990. What was a self-funded project that started by pouring concrete against the walls to make ramps turned into a 9,000 square-foot concrete skate park right below the Burnside Bridge. The park was once cited by author Keith Hamm as “the second coming of skateparks,” with a perfect blend of both bowls and street course terrain.
The DIY movement in the skateboarding industry is largely due to Burnside. Grindline Skateparks and Dreamland Skateparks, two of the largest skatepark builders, developed as a result of this beginning. It’s commonly accepted that it helped to reignite America’s love for public skateparks with the creation of Burnside.
In a 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal, Burnside is credited with turning Portland into “the skateboarding capital of the world,” and it serves as a memorable landmark on the “Portland Walking Tour.” According to a 2018 New York Times story, Burnside is one of the key reasons why “skateboarders won” and why skateparks are proliferating.
Burnside is one of the playable levels in the video game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and its remakes. It was also seen in the films Free Willy, Paranoid Park, Foxfire and The Hunted Untraceable.
Who Built Burnside Skatepark?
Burnside was started by skateboarders Bret Taylor, Chuck Willis, Osage Buffalo, Kent Dahlgren, and Jay Graham. As the summer of 1990 went on, skaters Mark “Red” Scott, Sage Bolyard, MYG, Elliot Johnson, and thousands of others began to help out.
They began by pouring concrete against Burnside’s main wall, creating a vertical transition obstacle in the empty parking lot below the east-end of the Burnside bridge.
The skaters wanted to construct the concrete ramp under the bridge because it was covered and protected from Portland’s rainy season, allowing all-year skating. The project began with a few bags of cement remaining over. The founders constructed a three-foot by three-foot bank obstacle.
The second obstacle was another bank against the same wall, this time with dimensions of five by six feet. The banks were eventually combined into a single bank. A tiny bowl pocket was created along the north end support beam of the bridge.
The project’s founders struck a deal with local construction workers, employed by Ross Island Cement, who were constructing the I-84 on-ramp. The skateboarders convinced the employees to give them the leftover cement from the I-84 on-ramp construction. The project’s construction rapidly accelerated, with skaters re-paving the pavement of the parking lot as a result.
Does Burnside Skatepark Still Exist?
Burnside skatepark does still exist and you can visit it anytime you’d like because of the streetlights that were installed to keep it well-lit in the night. However, the park was closed for some time in the year 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re ever in Portland, Oregon, be sure to check out Burnside Skatepark. It’s a legendary skate spot that’s so popular among skateboarders! Just be sure to bring some beverages to share with the locals and follow their rules.
Burnside skatepark continues to grow and evolve with the city of Portland.