Free LOVE Park

LOVE Park Timeline

1932Edmund Bacon, Philadelphia's future city planner, conceives LOVE Park as part of his undergraduate architecture thesis at Cornell University.
1957Bacon brings his plan to Mayor Richardson Dilworth, who agrees to build the park at the terminus of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
1962Jacques Greber, the then elderly Parisian creator of the Parkway, returns to Philadelphia and approves the new plans for Parkway alterations, including LOVE Park.
1965Construction of LOVE Park finishes, designed by architect Vincent Kling.
1967LOVE Park is dedicated as John F. Kennedy Plaza.
1969The Fairmount Park Commission installs the massive fountain at LOVE Park's center.
1985Spike's Skates, Philadelphia's first skateboard shop opens.
1990sInternationally known professional skateboarders like Ricky Oyola, Josh Kalis, Stevie Williams, and Anthony Pappalardo make their names in the multibillion-dollar skateboarding industry by being identified with their frequent use of LOVE Park. LOVE Park becomes a mecca of skateboarding.
1994The City's Managing Director, Joe Martz, writes a bill banning skateboarding from the Municipal Services Building Plaza, next to LOVE Park.
March 2000Councilman Michael Nutter proposes a bill banning skateboarding from all public property. City Council passed bill 147, municipal law 10-610, "prohibiting skateboarding on all public property unless otherwise authorized." The skateboarding ban at LOVE Park is not strictly enforced.
December 2000DC Shoe Company releases a new signature shoe for professional skateboarder Stevie Williams with the LOVE Park logo on the box.
2001Philadelphia hosts ESPN's X Games, extreme sports tournament. The X Games sign a two-year contract, making Philadelphia the first city to host the games for more than one year. Many of the X Games promotional events are filmed at LOVE Park. The events are televised to 150 million households in 18 countries. During the X Games, Philadelphia's Mayor John Street poses for a promotional video, sitting on a scooter, as professional skateboarder Kerry Getz performs an ollie over his head.
April 5, 2002Louisville, KY opens a $4.5 million skatepark in its center. The park makes the city famous overnight, attracts international extreme sports tournaments, gains enormous international acclaim and is loved by residents and skateboarders, alike.
April 8, 2002University of Pennsylvania's President Judith Rodin, with civic and business support forms the Knowledge Industry Partnership OneBigCampus campaign to attract more young people to study and live in Philadelphia.
April 22, 2002Hundreds of Philadelphia youths hold a demonstration at LOVE Park just before it is closed for renovations to make the park unskateable. Many of these young people say that they plan to leave the city if LOVE Park is destroyed.

DC Shoes films a commercial at LOVE Park just before it is closed to advertise its multi-million-dollar shoe label

April 25, 2002Philadelphia closes LOVE Park for renovations.
July 3, 2002LOVE Park reopens just before the Sunoco Welcome America festival. The renovations cost $800,000. The park reopens with pink planters blocking the skateable ledges and some surfaces covered with grass and flower beds. Skateboarding is made a little more difficult. The most important element, the circle of steps around the fountain remains as it was. The city positions a 24-hour police watch to enforce the skating ban.
August 1-19, 2002The X Games return to Philadelphia, as part of their two-year contract. The previous year the event attracted $40-50 million for the city, including 10,000 hotel rooms. The mood at the games is overshadowed by the closure of the city's skating icon, LOVE Park. The X Games do not return to Philadelphia in 2003.
August 14, 2002The Philadelphia Weekly newspaper holds an informal survey of people in LOVE Park, finding 29 of the 40 people interviewed did not mind the skateboarders in the park.
October 28, 2002Edmund Bacon, the former Executive Director of the City Planning Commission, who conceived LOVE Park in 1932, at age 92 skateboards in LOVE Park as a demonstration in support of skateboarders. Vincent Kling, the architect of LOVE Park attends to show his support. Bacon was not arrested or fined. Pictures
May 1, 2003The Pennsylvania Economy League holds a forum on how to attract new residents to Philadelphia, attended by over 300 members of the business community. During the forum, a non-skateboarding college student says that closing LOVE Park to skateboarders was a big mistake. He is met with thunderous applause.
May 22, 2003The Independence Hall Association launches an online campaign to free LOVE Park. Their petition receives 150 entries in one day and 1200 in its first week.

The Philadelphia Daily News publishes a column titled, "LOVE Park skating war resumes and (Mayor) Street should take heed."

May 23, 2003The Daily News reports results of an online poll which reached 69% in support for returning skateboarding to LOVE Park by publication time, reaching 70% by the end of the night.
May 28, 2003The Associated Press runs an article on LOVE Park over its wire, "Skateboarders still hoping for return to LOVE Park."
May 30, 2003Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz holds a press conference at LOVE Park and says that if he is elected he will "liberate LOVE Park" for the skateboarders.

In a Daily News interview, professional skateboarder Stevie Williams says that even though he lives in Hollywood, makes $500,000 in promotions and owns two Mercedes, he would give it all up "to come back home and be able to skate LOVE."
May 31, 2003Councilman Richard Mariano, traditionally a steadfast Street supporter, sends Mayor Street an open letter calling for a reconsideration of the skating ban.
June 1, 2003The Philadelphia Inquirer runs an editorial, "Long lost LOVE Park redo didn't end great skate debate," stating, "Maybe, someday, LOVE Park, and skateboarders, will be back in the pink."
June 6, 2003Philadelphia civic organization Young Involved Philadelphia votes to support the movement to Free LOVE Park.
June 17, 2003A group of Philadelphia-region skating business owners, professional skateboarders and interested non-skaters form the Skateboard Advocacy Network to protect and evolve the business and activity of skateboarding.
July 9, 2003Young Involved Philadelphia hosts a forum on the Future of Love Park. The panelists were Edmund Bacon, former director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Daniel J. Keating, III, Chairman and CEO, Keating Group, Scott Kip, Director, Skateboard Advocacy Network and Dan Pohlig, from Sam Katz for Mayor 2003. Mayor Street's representative Mark Nevins was scheduled to attend but did not show up. The event was attended by over 100 interested citizens and the press.
July 22, 2003The Coalition to Free LOVE Park presents a compomise proposal that is well received by citizens and government officials.
October 5, 2003Free LOVE Park rally at City Hall attracts hundreds. Announcement made that a resolution is just "days away." Pictures from Rally.
June 1, 2004DC Shoes announces $1M gift if city reopens LOVE Park to skateboarding. Pictures
June 21, 2005About 2000 skateboarders descend on LOVE Park and are allowed to skate! Pictures homepage

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