Twenty-five years ago a group of bored skateboarders took a bag of stolen concrete underneath the Burnside Bridge and built a small bank up against its back wall. Without knowing it, they would change the face of skateboarding, creating an international landmark skaters pilgrimage to every day. Since that day, the same guys who built it have been fighting to keep it around.
Here's our mini documentary about the park:
It didn't take long for the city and the surrounding community to notice what was happening beneath the most important street in Portland. However, what the inexperienced concrete creators took over wasn't exactly the most desired aspect of the community. What was originally a drug addict run homeless encampment became something the city would pay millions to make, all without a single piece of bureaucratic red tape.
Burnside today isn't threatened by the city who authorized the existence of Burnside in 1992, and it's not threatened by the surrounding businesses who supported the park from the beginning. Today it's threatened by a new 21-story apartment complex going up feet away from Burnside's hand shaped concrete called "Yard."
Initially Burnside's board members like Elias Parise, Sage Bolyard and Mark Scott were open about the changes the park was going to make. "The building going up next door is letting us extend up against their building," said Burnside treasurer Burke Morris. However as the project moved forward, it became apparent speaking with Mark Scott that Burnside was having problems with the building next door.
In an unorthodox fundraising ploy, local shops like Cal's Pharmacy and Shrunken Head Skateboards sold specialty donation-based stickers, and Sizzle Pie sold one of a kind t-shirts, while a larger crowd funding account on Gofundme.org is bringing in bigger donations some up to $500.
The building going up next door took away all of the skatepark's natural light, forcing them to put in lights. Also the building took over a few skate elements that didn't exactly exist on land Burnside has the rights to. However, what Burnside actually owns is a bit of a grey area, so giving up a few parking spaces, was the least of their worries.
On the Gofundme.org page the organizers wrote:
"In order to make the park usable for another 25 years, we need improvements such as lights, new concrete, rebar, steel coping, pool block, and fresh paint to keep the best park in the world healthy and fresh for a city that is changing everyday."
With over $30,000 of their intentionally overly large $40,000 goal, the park has plenty of money to do what they want. The only issue is, how can a piece of Portland history exist in the middle of a fast changing, rapid expansion environment Portland itself is struggling with.