Burnside started out as a pet project among a group of friends in rain-soaked Portland, Oregon, eventually became the country's first skater-built, -operated and -maintained public skatepark.

Burnside was created entirely by volunteer efforts by skaters and their friends. Most of the concrete that was used in constructing it was surplus that would have been disposed of, but they talked to the concrete pourers and said that if they ever needed a place to get rid of some 'crete, they could help out. And make a quarter pipe as quickly as possible before it set up.

Of course, when city officials found out what Red, Choppy and their friends were up to, they wanted the place shut down and bulldozed immediately, as has happened since in Philadelphia and San Diego. Beset with legal hassles and the constant threat of immediate foreclosure, Portland's skaters eventually earned the respect of the city and their neighbors by keeping the place neat, well run and well organized. Local skaters act as janitors, maintenance men and security, so they know what to crack down on and what to ignore. Remember: it's their park that's at stake, and they're not going to let you or a group of your friends do something dumb enough to get their park shut down. Through some nimble negotiating on the part of the skaters, Burnside is still up and running. It has become a global testament to skateboarders' abilities to provide for themselves when everyone else is dead set against them.

Burnside's terrain includes the gigantic vert-face wall John Cardiel somehow managed to drop in on and live, a mellow, 4-foot rectangular bowl, the accursed Twinkie bump, a pyramid and a 7-foot vert bowl corner with steel coping. The bridge's support columns have transitions at their bases, which make convenient spots for wallrides, and an assortment of quarterpipes pepper the place. Don't forget the 8-foot-deep bowl Donny Barley backside tailslid around the corner of, or the vert wall Rune Glifberg blunt-reverted in on.

Sessions at Burnside seem to be never ending, and it's not unusual for an 8-year-old slash dog to be whipping through hidden lines while you're trying to get a feel for the bumpy, lumpy, uneven terrain these guys skate like a favorite curb. On your first roll through the rough-hewn park, it might not seem like much, but when you think about all the time, effort, blood and guts that went into it, you'll realize Burnside is a testament to the DIY spirit.

If you'd like an idea of what it looks like, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has a pretty accurate model that you can play, or you can go here: http://www2.whidbey.net/rientjes/christmas00/december/dec9.html

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