Sage Bolyard and other ardent skateboarders began skateboarding under the Burnside Bridge in 1990. Using the bridges foundation as a structure, they began to build ramps and jumps. Eventually it became a place to go that was challenging for skaters, yet out of the weather.
The presence of the skateboarders changed demographics in the area which was originally plagued by crime, trash and drug paraphernalia. They cleaned up the area by removing graffiti and trash and helped to scare away some of the illegal activities.
Then in 1993, the city’s endorsement of the park brought worldwide fame to the “first official skateboard park ever”. Since that time, skateparks are a strategic part of almost every city’s park plan.
The unique feature of this skatepark that sets it apart from others is that it has the bridge itself as part of the park’s foundation.
Thirteen year old Gabriel Rahe was one of the early skateboarders who burned up hours of energy in the Burnside Skatepark. These days, once again, demographics are changing in the area of the skatepark as development encroaches on what used to be a fairly sequestered area.
“The architects designed the new buildings right up to the shadow of the bridge, so now we need to retrofit lighting and rehabilitate the old structure to work with the new surrounding buildings,” Rahe said. He is owner of Art Heads Custom Picture Framing, 1506 SE 50th Ave.
This Halloween is the Skatepark’s 25th birthday and the Burnside Skatepark Board of Directors want to complete the new additions, install new lights and doorway, and have paint for art and surface care.
A crowdfunding campaign has been started at: gofundme/burnside for the public and enthusiasts who would like to help this project.
Rahe has partnered with Michael Beard (artist of the classic “Bridges of Portland” posters) and Beard has donated twelve autographed posters of the Burnside Bridge for the fundraising. The posters are available for $20 ($99 framed) from Art Heads. Proceeds will be donated to the gofundme campaign. NT
From an article in The Oregonian written by Casey Parks about the Burnside Bridge comes this quote:
“Multnomah County leaders in the 1920s believed the Burnside Bridge could be more than a span across the river. They hired an architect – an unusual move then – to create a handsome bridge as part of a national movement to beautify America’s cities.
When it opened in 1926 with ornate railings and turreted Italian Renaissance operator houses, onlookers celebrated the Burnside’s ornamentation as much as its engineering.”