When you hear the name Philadelphia, what is the first picture that comes to mind? Is it an authentic Philly Cheesesteak? Maybe you imagine some of the city's popular historical attractions. Well, if you're a fan of skateboarding, you're probably thinking about LOVE Park right now.
LOVE Park, officially known as the John F. Kennedy Plaza, was designed in the 1960s by Edmund Bacon, the father of actor Kevin Bacon. The park was built over an underground parking garage, and later on the additions of a fountain and granite steps were made. In 1976, Robert Indiana's “LOVE” statue was installed, only to be removed two years later. Because of its popularity, the Chairman of the Philadelphia Art Commission purchased the statue so that it could reside permanently within the JFK Plaza.
Although the park was never intended for skateboarding, young city-dwellers of the 80s and 90s discovered the appeal of the park's large space, stairs, granite ledges, and manual pads and began to take advantage of them. Several professional skateboarders grew up skating in this park. It became the centerpiece of ESPN's X Games, which were held in the city twice in a row. Unfortunately, the City of Philadelphia banned skateboarding in LOVE Park in 2002 for the sake of other park visitors. In spite of a well-designed proposition to balance the community's interests and even a $1 million offer by DC Shoes for park maintenance, the ban is still enforced to this day.
Aside from the history of skateboarding, LOVE Park is also known for the Fairmount Park Welcome Center and Gift Shop. It is also a hot spot for popular food trucks. To honor events and movements, the City sometimes dyes LOVE Park's water fountain different colors, including pink for breast cancer awareness, blue for the commemoration of policemen fatalities, green in honor of the Phillies winning the World Series, and red to market the television series “Dexter.” From Thanksgiving until Christmas, LOVE Park also features “The Christmas Village,” a holiday event fashioned after 16th-century German Christmas Markets.
LOVE Park is located across from City Hall and serves as the grand entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For a free attraction and a few fun photos, you won't want to skip this city highlight. Before you make your way over to all the nearby historical and art attractions, start at LOVE Park and work your way up. Soak in the urban feel and reflect on the controversy over the skateboarding ban. It's not as old as City Hall or Independence Mall, but it's arguably just as important to Philly's history.