Before it became a multibillion dollar empire, skateboarding was little more than a productive way to wait out a dry spell on the coastline.
70s Skateboard Culture Dog Day

“Dog Day Down, Kenter Canyon Elementary”, 1976. Source: Hugh Holland

It was 1975 when Hugh Holland happened across a gang of skateboarders cruising the drainage ditches of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles, California. In awe of their finesse, Holland realized he had found the next subject of his photographic endeavors.

Holland captured images of the sport, along with its accompanying culture, until 1978. At this time, the sport was truly exploding. What was once a way for surfers to get through dry spells without waves was well on its way to becoming the nearly $5 billion merchandising empire it is today.

At around this time, high demand meant that skate parks started popping up all over California and the rest of the country. But high liability insurance rates meant that these parks struggled to stay open — and that illegally boarding in a neighbor’s empty pool became a popular alternative.

Before Holland bade adieu to skateboarding, he captured the careful choreography of Zephyr team (the Z-boys) members, including Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva and Jay Adams, at a time when every trick was new and entire days were spent honing skills under the golden California sun. For a little bit of perspective, all of these photos were taken before Alan Gelfund invented the maneuver called the “ollie” in 1978:

70s Skateboard Culture Peralta Coldwater

“Stacy Peralta Ripping at Coldwater Canyon Pool”, 1977. One year later, Stacy Peralta would become one of the founders of Powell-Peralta, the company that would later give us the Bones Brigade, another groundbreaking team that brought skateboarding popular attention. Source: Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Pool Shred

“He Shreds this Pool”, 1977. Source: Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Off Wall

“Off the Wall Reach”, 1976. Source: Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Solo

“Solo, Kenter Canyon Elementary”, 1976. Source: Hugh Holland

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly is a freelance writer, artist and video editor that splits her time between the humid Midwest and the dusty corners of her mind.
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