The Evolution of Skateboarding

by Alex Barski
Skateboarding's place in popular culture remains strong thanks to extreme sports.

Skateboarding's place in popular culture remains strong thanks to extreme sports.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

No one is sure who started skateboarding, but it's a safe bet the first skateboarder would be impressed with the mark boarding has made in popular culture. Today's skateboarders have many options, from riding around the driveway to having a career in extreme sports. It's been a fast rise for a slab rise with four wheels. Skateboarding has evolved from a hobby more than 50 years ago to a sport that continues to develop.

Early History

Skateboarding began in the late 1940s and early 1950s as "sidewalk surfing." People attached the bottoms of roller skates to flat surfaces such as milk crates, wooden boards and just about anything flat to resemble a scooter. People also used a handle to hold while they rode the sidewalk surfer. Because the contraptions were not often put together well, they caused a lot of injuries and inspired users to create something better.

Surfer Influence

In the later 1950s, California surfers took to "street surfing." People began to connect surfing and skateboarding, which allowed both to gain in popularity. With the excitement of the new sport giving surfers the feeling they could ride waves on the street, the idea took off. Many of today's moves found in surfing have counterparts in skateboarding.


The early to mid-1970s brought tricks and moves into skateboarding, adding a new dimension. Meanwhile, the increase in popularity brought challenges to communities frustrated by people using skateboards in public areas. Skate parks started appearing in the 1980s, giving boarders a place to hone their jumping and ramping skills.

Videogames and Extreme Sports

In the 1990s, video games and extreme sports kept the skateboard rolling along. Skateboarding stars such as Tony Hawk, who gained popularity through extreme sporting events as well as his own video games and marketing efforts, made millions of dollars, according to his website He's also created a foundation to build skate parks in neighborhoods across the country.

About the Author

Alex Barski began writing professionally in 2006. He is a former television news reporter now working in news management and has written for regional magazines and business journals in Pennsylvania. Barski has also served as a college professor, teaching courses in mass media and writing. He has a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and English from King's College.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images