Skateboarding

Burnside Skatepark - The world's first DIY skatepark

© James Matthews / Red Bull Content Pool
If you're lucky enough to live in the Portland area, don't miss your chance to experience skating at this world-renowned location.
By Red Bull Editorial TeamPublished on
The concept of a DIY skatepark is nothing new to the skating community. In fact, DIY skateparks have been around since skateboarding first started gaining popularity as a sport back in the '70s. A DIY skatepark is one that an individual or group of individuals builds themselves out of whatever materials are around. Often, these skateparks are constructed in urban areas that have been abandoned, while other times, they can be found in the backyards of hardcore skaters who want a regular place to practice their skills.

Brief History and Introduction to the Burnside Skatepark

The Burnside Skatepark is located in Portland, Oregon, and started in 1990 as an illegal, hand-built skatepark underneath the Burnside Bridge. The area was once overrun with drug addicts and prostitutes. However, as the skating community started to fix the place up, these people eventually left, which pleased not only the local business owners but also the police. As the skating community gained the respect of locals, the park was eventually accepted by the city.
What started as just some concrete poured against a wall to make a bank has expanded into what is now an iconic location that many skaters, both professional and beginners alike, make a pilgrimage to any chance they get. In fact, the Burnside Skatepark has been featured in several skater video games, including Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. The park receives no funding from the city, and it is run entirely using donations and the generosity of volunteers, many of whom are the original crew who started the skatepark back in the '90s.
CJ Collins at Burnside Skatepark
CJ Collins at Burnside Skatepark
Although the park has had its share of difficulty and struggles to survive in the constantly changing environment that is Portland, the board who oversees the park and the skateboarding community who love and use it are always willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the park alive. This skatepark can be credited with giving rise to the modern skatepark movement, as it was the first large-scale and widely used DIY skatepark in existence. So the next time you head out to a DIY skatepark, thank the creators of the Burnside Skatepark for their dedication to the sport.

Who Can Skate at the Burnside Skatepark?

If you've been searching for a great skatepark where you can improve your skateboarding skills, then you should definitely head to the Burnside Skatepark. Being that it's one of the original DIY skateparks, and it was designed entirely by real skaters, you're sure to love its feel and design. It features some cool obstacles and terrain, such as rails, pyramids, bowls, and a variety of ramps that allow you to pull off your best stunts and tricks. If you need some help getting started with doing awesome tricks on your skateboard, check out this article from Red Bull.
Thanks to the dedicated and committed volunteers, generous donations from local business owners, caring Portland citizens, and skateboarders who love the park, you won't be charged a fee to use the facilities at Burnside Skatepark. Additionally, it's a welcoming environment to skateboarders of all skill levels. Beginners can get inspiration from those with better skills, and experts will be forced to innovate when they see what tricks other pros are up to.
Maybe it's because this was Oregon's first DIY skatepark, or perhaps it's because of the "built by skaters, for skaters" mentality this place holds. Either way, it's an incredible place to skate no matter if it's your first time on a skateboard or you've been riding one for decades.
CJ Collins at Burnside Skatepark
CJ Collins at Burnside Skatepark

What's Burnside Skatepark Like Today?

Anyone heading to the Burnside Skatepark today will need to be aware of some changes that 2020 and the future bring. In April 2020, the skatepark was closed due to the pandemic. Fortunately, it has since reopened, but visitors will need to take note of any guidelines in place before taking to the cement. However, this isn't the only hurdle Burnside Skatepark is currently facing.
The Burnside Bridge that the skatepark is built under isn't earthquake-ready, which means the city of Portland is facing a tough decision. One of two things will have to happen: Either the current bridge will need to be retrofitted to ensure it's sound if a massive earthquake hits, which is predicted within the next 50 years, or the bridge will need to be replaced with an up-to-date, earthquake-ready bridge. In the first scenario, the Burnside Skatepark will have to be demolished. In the latter, more expensive scenario, Burnside Skatepark will be able to remain as it is, where it is.
The volunteers and board members who currently maintain and oversee the development of this world-famous skatepark are concerned about what the future holds for not just this skatepark, but the culture of skateboarding in general. For now, we can only hope that the annual Halloween party that will mark the 30th anniversary of Burnside Skatepark's existence can still take place.
Those who may only get the chance to skate here once in their lifetime, make sure you take it. However, when you're not able to make it out, you can check out all the thrills of skateboarding right from the comfort of your own living room by watching Red Bull's skateboarding video lineup.