People tend to act like skateboarding is a ‘new’ sport or some kind of ‘young’ practice that’s still finding its way in the grand scheme of things. But just because cities are building 500 basketball or tennis courts for every single public skateboard park out there, it’s not as if skateboarding has no history.

Just the opposite.

Depending on whom you ask, skateboarding has been around for at least 70 years, probably much longer. The first store-bought skateboards appeared in the 1950s, but DIY-crafted skateboards or skate scooters popped up long before World War II. Plus, skateboarding experienced four massive boom periods throughout the decades, each with its own riding styles, pioneers, and fashion trends.

But who’s keeping this history alive?

Aside from a few collectors and a handful of privately-operated skateboard museums, skateboarding lacks the kind of memory culture found in more mainstream athletic pursuits. Basketball, baseball and ice hockey each have their own Hall of Fame, and these places of living memory and tribute are a huge deal for fans and athletes alike.

Step into skateboarding history: The brand-new Skateboarding Hall of Fame space at Simi Town Center outdoor mall.

In 2010, the official Skateboarding Hall of Fame stepped in to fill this void. Created by skateboard collector and history buff Todd Huber, co-founder of now defunct Skatelab skatepark in Simi Valley, the Hall of Fame is providing an enduring record of iconic skateboarders who left their mark throughout the decades.

Every year, almost a dozen new inductees join the ranks of skateboard trailblazers such as Tony Alva, Lance Mountain, Natas Kaupas and Danny Way, together with cultural icons like Glen E. Friedman and Black Flag.

The growing list of Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductees is a testament to the evolution of skateboarding and the riders, company owners, artists, photographers and cultural forces that have made skateboarding what it is today.

In major news, Todd Huber recently found a new home for the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Museum. He spent years cramming the expansive collection of over 5,000 historic skateboards dating back to the 1940s into a permanent display at Skatelab. Now it has room to shine in its full glory at Simi Valley Town Center mall

The brand-new space boasts a mini ramp with a wall ride, regular skate classes, comprehensive skate video and magazine collections, plus tons of memorabilia from Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductees.

Basically, it’s the past, present and future of skateboarding right under the same roof.

ILLUMINATED PAPER talks to museum founder and curator Todd Huber about the importance of honoring skateboarding’s pioneers, classic Hall of Fame induction speeches and what’s next for the non-profit operation.

Curator of Skateboard History: Hall of Fame founder Todd Huber on Facetime with ILLUMINATED PAPER.

Congratulations on your new space, Todd. When did the new Hall of Fame open and how big is the space?

We opened on December 15, 2018. Right on time for the Holiday sale. This used to be an Urban Outfitters, so it’s a nice large space at 10,000 square feet. We’re right across from the VANS store in an outdoor shopping mall here in Simi, so it’s perfect.

What can visitors experience at the new Skateboarding Hall of Fame?

The overall concept is really that of a school. We’re going to teach you all about the history of skateboarding, but we’re also going to teach you how to ride a skateboard. We have a full-on skateboarding school called Skate U, the University of Skateboarding.

Our classes have already started and the miniramp here is really fun. It’s 24-foot wide with different levels and a wallride, fully open to the public. The ramp was made possible by a donation from the Midler family, parents of pro skater Alex Midler, and it’s covered in epic Skatelite surface.

Inside the Skateboarding Hall of Fame: Browse the world’s biggest collection of DIY-skateboards and pro models from early beginnings until today.

You can also visually tour the history of skateboarding in our museum. We have the largest collection of DIY-boards dating back to the 1940s and we have boards from all periods in between until today. It’s an amazing wall with hundreds of skateboards.

Plus, we have a library featuring almost every single print skateboard magazine ever published, including Thrasher, TransWorld, SLAP, Big Brother and older ones like Skateboarder or Action Now. Plus, there’s our VHS collection of classic skateboard videos and tons of books accessible to everyone. Finally, there’s our shop where we sell new skateboards with a focus on high-quality completes for beginners.

Do you have a special section for SHoF inductees?

Since we’re the official Skateboarding Hall of Fame, it’s also about celebrating our inductees. For each person we showcase a historic board they rode in their prime next to famous photos and memorabilia. You can start by learning about a pioneer like Bruce Logan, our very first inductee who happened to stop by the new space yesterday and work your way up to our most recent inductees from 2018.

Thanks for dropping by: First-ever SHoF inductee and 1970s skateboarding pioneer Bruce Logan visits Todd Huber in his new space. Photo: Skateboarding Hall of Fame Instagram.

You’re really bringing together past and future generations of skateboarding under one roof. Do you also host events or shows?

Events are also an important focus. We’re currently working on a photography show for the summer and an event called Lunch with the Logans where people can experience lunch with all four Logan family skaters as a fundraising event. Another focus is giving back to the community, like we did at Skatelab, by raising food donations for the homeless.

Are you set up as a charitable organization?

We operate as a non-profit, so one thing that has helped us getting to this point is donations. In 2018 we were able to mobilize enough money to buy a computer system, some televisions for the museum and get some signage going. People also offer hands-on support. For example, our ramp builder, Kevin Hewitt did not charge us for any of the labor. Which was just huge! And we welcome material donations like vintage skateboards, magazines, anything people want to help us with.

What were some standout donations from your supporters so far?

Lance Mountain donated 14 boxes of skateboarding magazines to our library. A lot of them have address stickers that say ‘Lance Mountain’, which is pretty cool. He could have easily sold those mags on eBay and made a lot of money. But instead he put them in his trunk, drove up here to Simi Valley, shook my hand and said: ‘Take good care of them.’

And just the other day Jerry Madrid, who started Madrid Skateboards, called me and asked for my address to send some stuff. When people that have made such a huge contribution to skateboarding donate and others see it, the whole thing just mushrooms and that’s really motivating to other people.

It’s also important to say that the Skateboarding Hall of Fame is not just about our annual induction ceremonies, but a real physical place that people can visit right here in Simi Valley.

PRESERVING SKATEBOARDING’S LEGACY

Meet the inductees: Portraits of 2015 Skateboarding Hall of Fame additions by artist Robert Whitley.

It’s great that you are so close to bona-fide skateboard pioneers. What is the philosophy behind the Skateboarding Hall of Fame?

Before we started the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, there were no museums or anyone honoring skateboarding’s pioneers. There were people who had collections, like Brewce [Martin] from Skatopia or Dale Smith, but no public museums.

That’s when I decided to move my entire collection out of my garage and into the world where people could see it and get stoked on it. Just to educate people that there is a huge history in skateboarding. And although we’re in a totally new space, I’ve made this collection available to the public [at Skatelab] over 21 years ago. It’s also important to say that the Skateboarding Hall of Fame is not just about our annual induction ceremonies, but a real physical place that people can visit right here in Simi Valley.

Speaking about new SHoF inductions, the annual induction ceremony is a big gala event, right?

The induction ceremony is usually in May and we have it at The Grove Theater in Anaheim, California made possible on this scale by support from VANS and the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC). Last year we had about a thousand people and it’s very touching to see the emotions and sincerity in the acceptance speeches. It’s meaningful. The whole thing is not just some parade, but really significant to everyone.

You really hear it in the speeches. By the way, you can check them out on the SHoF YouTube channel. John Cardiel for example at one point in his speech was just so overwhelmed, he let out this roaring primal scream. Waaahhh! And that’s the end of the whole speech, incredible.

Any other highlights throughout the years?

So many. But my other favorite inductee was probably Eric Dressen, he was just so sincere and put it all together perfectly. Because otherwise he is such a quiet dude. And he was already one of my favorites back in 1978, when he was just a little kid blowing up.

Skate history buffs: Todd Huber with skateboard history book author Jurgen Blumlein and Hall of Famer Patti McGee.

How many inductees are added every year and who gets to nominate and vote?

It ranges from eight to twelve new inductees every year. There’s a Nomination Committee and over 400 voters within the skateboard industry. It’s all explained on our website. There is one inductee in each category going from the 1960s to the 2000s. Every year, the Nomination Committee decides who gets added to the ballot.

Overseeing it all is the Skateboarding Hall of Fame Executive Committee, consisting of Lance Mountain, Jim Muir, Laura Thornhill-Caswell, Steve Olson, Dave Hackett, Thomas Barker and myself. There have been times when we had to step in and veto some decisions.

Basically, we could let Lance Mountain run the whole thing (laughs). He just knows! He knows who’s legit and should go in. Lance even said, ‘If I get inducted before Rodney Mullen, I quit. I’m not doing this anymore.’ When it comes to skate history, nobody knows more than Lance.

It’s very touching to see the emotions and sincerity in the acceptance speeches. It’s meaningful. The whole thing is not just some parade, but really significant to everyone.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMORY CULTURE

Speaking about skateboard history, how important is having a Hall of Fame for skateboard culture in general? Because we don’t see that many tributes or references to the pioneers on a regular basis.

I have always believed that these riders and their contributions really matter. Before the Hall of Fame, we hosted an event called the Old School Skate Jam around 2001 in our bowl at Skatelab. All the legends came out, like Tony Alva, Bruce Logan, and Duane Peters. El Gato. Tony Hawk. You can ask any one of those guys, they’ll say it was one of the best nights of their lives.

It was the very first event to bring all those dudes together. Everybody who used to battle it out back in the day came to Skatelab for a session. To me that mattered a lot. Their skating had been such a big part of my life. I wanted to show them that people do care about their contributions.

Most of the riders you mentioned are still very active and visible in skateboarding, like Tony Hawk. But others turned pro and made their contribution when the rewards were very short-lived. So Hall of Fame status can be a long due gesture of recognition, right?

People compare us to the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, but those people in music made a shit-ton of money! For many people in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame things did not work out like that. They didn’t get the respect they deserved.

Respect tends to be somewhat short-lived in skateboarding. It seems that pro skateboarders have to continuously earn their respect in the scene. Does the Hall of Fame make a more permanent contribution to memory culture?

Well, I think these guys are out there skating because they want to. I believe Tony Alva still wants to skate. Sure, VANS is putting on events and asking him to be there. But he could easily say that he’ll show up and not skate or prove himself. Nobody is making him do it. These guys just want to. They can’t help it.

Or when Bruce Logan came over the other day. He hadn’t stood on a skateboard in a long time and had been through some accidents. But suddenly, I look over and there’s Bruce Logan in the back all by himself, riding a skateboard! He saw one of his old boards on the wall and just couldn’t help it.

On that note, what is the response from inductees on being added to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame?

It means a lot to them. Look at [Dave] Hackett and [Alan] Losi’s social media profile pictures – it’s their Hall of Fame trophy!

Game changer: Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductee Neil Blender.

People compare us to the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, but those people in music made a shit-ton of money! For many people in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame things did not work out like that. They didn’t get the respect they deserved.

That’s amazing to see! What are your next steps for the Skateboarding Hall of Fame?

I only signed a two-year lease in this space so it’s temporary. But the idea is to build the museum as a showpiece, like a model home, to show officials from other cities what the museum could be like for their town. There’s definitely interest. I’ve already talked to the City of Anaheim and the City of Los Angeles.

I really want it to be in Southern California because skateboarding is definitely one of the things we’re known for. Skateboarding and surfing are parts of our culture and everyone who grew up here at least had a bit of history with a skateboard – boy and girl.

I know you have parts of the collection that are still in boxes until you find a large enough space. Is that the ultimate goal?

My ultimate goal is to find a permanent home where I can unpack my collection for life. And leave it there to share it with everyone on earth and then die with it there, too. It’s something that’s definitely going to last beyond my lifetime. I want to be the curator of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame for the rest of my life and then leave all this history to the next generation.

Thanks for all you’re doing, Todd, also supporting our skateboard history books through all these years. And thanks for the interview, the new space turned out so good.

Contact info:

Skateboarding Hall of Fame

1555 Simi Town Center Way #230

Simi Valley, CA 93065

805-842-1444

Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 2–9pm, Saturday 10am–9pm and Sunday 11am–7pm

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! This is interesting, thank you for sharing this one here! Looking forward to skateboard activities and events. Also, worldwide projects, hope more people support and donate. Keep it up!

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