Kick, Push, Coast: An Ethnographic Exploration of Pulaski Park



Woodward, Janis

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Considered one of the most popular skate spots in the world, Pulaski Park (formally referred to as Freedom Plaza) has been a beloved place for skateboarders since the late 1980s. Although skaters from around the United States come to skate this spot, skateboarding in the plaza is illegal. This has led to increased policing and surveillance of skateboarders and a burgeoning fear that the plaza will eventually undergo redevelopment to completely eradicate skateboarding. The potential eradication of street skateboarding could then lead to the disintegration of the skateboarding community that has frequented the plaza for over thirty years. Drawing from fieldwork conducted between April and August 2021, this thesis provides an ethnographic exploration of the complexities of skate spots like Pulaski Park. Through an analysis of street skateboarding at Pulaski, I highlight the infrastructural, intergenerational, and corporeal patterns that emerge in historical street skating spaces. By highlighting these intricacies, I call for urban planners and policymakers to recognize the significance of the Pulaski skateboarding community and how it contributes to the liveliness of the city. This thesis also contributes to literature on the city, urban space, politics, and intergenerationality and aging by bringing the multidimensions of street skateboarding into these conversations.



Skateboarding, Freedom Plaza, Intergenerationality, Urban design, Urban politics, Aging