São Paulo – Skaters Haven Under Threat

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Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, New York City, 1961

Jane Jacobs once wrote, in her landmark 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, that:

“…city areas with flourishing diversity sprout strange and unpredictable uses and peculiar scenes. But this is not a drawback of diversity. This is the point … of it.”

Jacob’s outlook on misex-use spaces fundamentally changed urban design and public policies regarding cultural and social equipment.

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Skaters in Beijing, China

Anyone living in what can be considered a thriving city is fully aware that what makes it thriving is its openness, its atractiveness to new and varied activities and interactions.

Safety, entertainment and liveliness are natural consequences of the colorful and diverse melting pots our neighborhoods and cities constitute.

Madonna, by David Lachapelle, 1998

Having that said, it is truly appalling that São Paulo – most specifically the Lapa Subprefecture – almost dismantled one of the city’s most important venues for the skateboarding culture, the historical Praça Joanópolis.

This tree-lined steep lane in Sumaré neighborhood is rightfully appointed as one of the birthplaces of the downhill slide modality in skateboarding, as well as the first gathering point of the community in the country. It is quite charmingly featured in a Brazilian publicity for Pepsi from the 70’s.

Praça Joanópolis, São Paulo

The subprefecture – never will we know whether motivated by influence traffic, conservative moods or no reason whatsoever – decided to modify the street’s pavement from asphalt to cobblestone, thus disabling the practice of the sport.

Luckilly enough, a last-minute meeting was called upon by the skating community. The administration decided to cease works for 60 days, period during which it will analyze whether skateboarding poses no threats nor disturbances to the area’s general tranquility – it seems that a disappearance of the stone breakers probably had something to do with the interruption as well.

For lusophones, learn more here and here.

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