The Birth of Skateboarding

Legend has it that skateboarding was born sometime in the mid 1940s when some inventive Californian teenagers tried to figure out a way to surf when the waves weren’t big enough. By the early 1960s, when surf shops started manufacturing skateboards commercially, the DIY trend officially became a national phenomenon.


The Quarterly Skateboarder was the first publication devoted to the emerging sport. Marketed as a magazine for the teenagers who were creating and refining the sport, The Quarterly Skateboarder included the following message in its first issue: “Today’s skateboarders are founders in this sport—they’re pioneers—they are the first. There is no history in Skateboarding—its being made now—by you. The sport is being molded and we believe that doing the right thing now will lead to a bright future for the sport.”

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LIFE’s May 14, 1965 cover girl was 19-year-old skateboarder Pat McGee — a sure sign that skateboarding had emerged into the national consciousness. Their feature story unsurprisingly took the “skateboarding is dangerous!” angle, going so far as to include a photo of a bloodied knee.

life_cover life_p1 life_p2 life_p3 life_p6Popular Mechanics opened their July 1965 skateboarding feature with a quote from a psychologist: “the skateboard is a sign of defiance, the young people showing their elders that they have scorn for all the things they have been taught about the preciousness of life and safety of limb.”Popular_Mechanics_PageE

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Images via Vintage Skateboard Magazines