116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
There are a lot of elements that go into making a good photo or picture story. As photojournalists we often have to work to incorporate as many of those as we can. Sometimes though, everything comes together in a single photo.
One of the stories I have been covering recently is the closure and demolition of Cedar Rapids’ Riverside Skate Park. The park was originally slated to be demolished after Labor Day weekend in order to make way for construction of flood control measures and a new skate park on the site. By mid-September construction at the site had begun but skateboarders were still skating at the park as work continued.
With the parks demolition imminent I decided to stop there in the late afternoon hoping to make the most of the light from the setting sun. I made some pictures of the park and talked with some of the people skating there. One of the people I spoke with was Ben Driscoll. I had met Ben previously covering the story and said hello while asking about his plans for skateboarding following the parks’ demolition. While I was talking with Ben and photographing the park, Desmond’s curiosity drew him to the large concrete pipes awaiting installation as part of the construction.
As Desmond was skating the sewer pipe, construction crews next to the park were still working. I made some pictures of Desmond skating and then noticed one of the workers in an excavator was moving towards us. I stepped back and waited for them to pass through the background.
In skateboarding there is a long tradition of skating street spots: locations to skateboard outside of skate parks. Skateboarders imagine the landscape one interacts with every day in a different way. With the destruction of the park Cedar Rapids’ skateboarding community will be without a designated home for a while. Desmond stepping into the flood control piping to skate illustrates what the next months or perhaps years will be for that community. With no park, street skating is what will remain.
I chose this photo out that day’s take because all the aspects of the story I wanted to capture came together. The photo excavator, flood-control pipe, and skateboarder were all in place in one frame. They combine to illustrate what was literally happening: The tear down of the park due to flood control measures. The afternoon light created a beautiful interaction of highlight and shadow. The sun has set on Desmond’s silhouette and metaphorically on the old skate park. The curiosity and creativity in the act of seeing a concrete pipe differently speak to what is next for Cedar Rapids’ skateboarders. The old Riverside Skate Park is gone now. Until the new one is completed the only places to skate will be those they can imagine from the landscape of the city itself.