Skateboarding In 1965: Americans Fall For Sidewalk Surfing

By Karen Harris
Left: Patti McGee, the first Woman's National Skateboard Champion, does a handstand on her skateboard, California, early 1965. Right: Opening sequence of 'Skaterdater.; Source: Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images; YouTube

In 1965, skateboarding went mainstream. Previously it had been a fringe sport, enjoyed by a subculture of the surfing crowd, with skateboarders congregating on sidewalks and parking lots to practice their tricks. But a series of breakthrough moments in 1965 raised skateboarding's profile, prompting a national fad that would soon become its own culture, one that has endured for decades. 

Today, many cities have dedicated skate parks and there are now governing bodies of the sport. In fact, skateboarding was scheduled to make its Olympic premiere at the Tokyo games in 2020. The rise of skateboard culture owes much of its progress to the year 1965 when several events occurred that helped propel it into the national spotlight.