Skate or Die: Atlanta’s Skating Community

Each city has its own subcultures and each city does it justice the only way it can. Atlanta has resources amongst the city for its skateboarding community.

The Community

Georgia State students Jabari Anderson and Neil Rayburn shared their experiences as active skateboarders in Atlanta.

Much like any community, the skating body is a diverse and all encompassing one. Social factors that may separate other groups of people simply don’t apply.

“Skating can be kind of juvenile in a certain way, but it’s also kind of very progressive,” Rayburn said. “People don’t really give a shit about what you look like or how good you are, what your age is or your race.”

By the nature of skating, the body of people tends to be casual, expansive and interestingly enough, nameless.

“A lot of the times it’s pretty anonymous,” Rayburn said. “A lot of people will know your face, but you’ll never know their name. You’ve been skating with a kid for a year or two, but you don’t know their name.“

“It’s usually pretty to easy to meet other skaters,” Anderson said. “If you see somebody else with a board, you can judge how they skate pretty easily and start a new friendship through an impromptu skate sesh.”

The size of the community compared to other specific subcultures are pretty expansive and has rich history. Skating has a heavy presence in clothes, vernacular, DIY culture and namely, music. There are traditions and strange things the community shuns upon in how you treat yourself, hold your board of even what kind of board you have.

“Some people thumb their nose at longboarding,” Rayburn said. “It’s called wrongboarding or schlong boarding.”


Behind Board

Photo by: Jason Luong

“I didn’t really have anyone to teach me or anything,” Rayburn said. “You just keep going and eventually you learn tricks. Some people have someone who will show them how to skate, somebody that’s better than them that they’ll skate with. Me and my friends learned on our own.”

There actually is such a thing as “skateboarding lessons”, but that is far from how many skaters learn how to step on their deck.

“I learned to skate in High School when I was like 15,” Anderson said. “I could barely stand on the board. I just thought it was a fun and cool thing to do with my friends.”

Hobby is too trivial of a world for most and sport too serious. The mere fact of it creating an insanely popular and immersive sect means that in a lot of ways, it becomes a lifestyle.

“Skating is another way of life almost,” Anderson said. “I don’t feel as happy when I don’t have my board with me or when it’s raining because then I can’t go skate. It’s an awesome way to stay active and having a really good sesh with some homies gives you a rush.”

“It’s pretty much what I’m thinking about all the time,” Rayburn said. “I’m either skating or wishing that I could skate. Or, I’m tired.”

Skating is an adrenaline rush and a fast skill, but it can clear the mind as well.

“It’s kind of therapeutic to do, it can help you work through shit,” Rayburn said. “You can’t really be thinking of anything else when you’re doing it. You gotta have tunnel vision. Skating is analytical, doing a trick is almost like a math problem, there’s a lot of different variables.”


The Videos

A popular thing people do who are heavily into their skating, is to videotape themselves. Many skaters have edited projects and videos of their tricks and their friends.

Showcasing skateboarding is a trend since skateboarding was popularized in the 1980’s with skateboarding themed movies and subsequent music, usually called “skate punk”.

Many skaters have their own YouTube channels or post them onto social media.

“it’s fun to make videos,” Rayburn said. “Just put it on YouTube, show it to your homies. I have a group. We film it and I do most of the editing. Skate videos are always set to music. Most old school videos are set to punk music or hip-hop. Now it’s a bunch of different kinds of music.”


Where to Go

Photo by: Dayne Francis

Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark

Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark was Atlanta’s first public skatepark and remains the strongest public resource for skaters. It is within the larger Historic Fourth Ward Park. The opening included an entrance by skateboarder Tony Hawk, who donated through his foundation $25,000 into the skatepark.

830 Willoughby Way

Atlanta, GA 30312

Open Monday to Sunday, 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.



On the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Baker Street, Atlanta’s “BlackBox” sits. It’s not an official skatepark or an official establishment at all. It’s a sweeping corner with ramps, benches and checkered grounds. On a normal day, skateboarders frequent it regularly and it has become a skating staple in the city.

“It’s one of the main gathering points in the skating community,” Rayburn said. “People congregate there.”


McKoy Skatepark

Compared to the other locations, McKoy Skatepark is the farthest resource. Located in McKoy Park, the location is about a 15 minute drive from Georgia State campus.

534 Mckoy St

Decatur, GA 30030


Anywhere (…Maybe)

Junior Film Major and local skater, Jabari Anderson, finds places all around.

“There are all kinds of skate spots all around the city,” Anderson said. “I like certain spots Downtown like some of the parking decks on and off campus. The Old Fourth Ward Skatepark and the little park by the Masquerade.”

In the city of Atlanta, many places have skateboarding ordinances to keep skateboarders off of certain sidewalks, public places and other areas throughout the city.

“We definitely need more places to skate, at least legally anyway,” Anderson said. “Skaters are always getting kicked out spots and getting citations.”


Photo by: Jade Johnson


Where to Shop



Opened in 1986, Stratosphere Skateboards is the most popular and go-to resource for skaters in the city. It also happens to be one of the oldest family-run skate shops in the country. The shops is between Junkman’s Daughter and Aurora Coffee, in the heart of Little 5 Points. Stratosphere is completely skater run, with Thomas Taylor as the owner, a former professional skateboarder. Grant Taylor is his son, a professional skateboarder as well and a successful and notable one at that.

Stratosphere sells decks, shirts, shoes and other skateboarding equipment and accessories.

466 Moreland Avenue NE

Atlanta GA, 30307

Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Open Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.


Photo by: Dayne Francis


Skate Escape

Located near Piedmont Park, Skate Escape holds more than a usual skate shop. They sell bicycles, rent bikes, sell skates and sell skateboards. The various types of skates include Rink, Derby, Outdoor roller-skates and Inline-skates. They also have a fully equipped service shop. Skateboarding is their main forte, however. They stock decks, trucks, wheels, bearings, grip-tape, safety gear and other various accessories. Skate Escape can also custom build boards.

At the same location they’ve had since the 1970’s, their slogan remains. “Let the Good Times Roll!”

1086 Piedmont Avenue NE

Atlanta, GA 30309

Open Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Photo by: Dayne Francis


The Status LIfe

A few months ago, Stevie Williams, famous skateboarder and founder of company Dirty Ghetto Kids hosted the grand opening of his new skating boutique, The Status Life. Located in Castleberry Hill, the shop is dedicated to young skaters. The boutique sells artsy boards, shoes, clothes, backpacks and some jewelry.

252 Walker Street SW

Atlanta, GA 30313


“It’s an odd little microcosm of society.” Rayburn said.