As inner city space becomes more of a valued commodity there has been less of a focus on the public plaza. This is a sad case for many people worldwide - especially the skateboarder. During the early nineties renaissance of street skating we leisurely inhabited and progressed in the public plazas all across this rock. In recent years as street skating has become more ostracised we have been forced out of the plazas, into more obscure spots and even our own warehouses. There is seemingly no time like the present to give a nod of respect to the plazas of yesteryear as well as those still around today.

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This white plaza in front of the Lyon City Hall stood there for eons before the textbook footwork of JB Gillet and comrades spun it into global notoriety. Watching people skate it on a screen is one thing, but if you ever have a chance to have a roll here you will realise that its quirks are plentiful. As folklore has it this is the actual location of the first of the skateboard pyramid.

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Bercy is one of the longest inhabited boroughs of Paris. The Bercy Arena was shot into global notoriety with a couple of power moves, one being Jeremie Daclin’s beastly rounded hubba boardside and Andrew Reynolds big five kickflip. Aside from the more stunt-orientated sections of the plaza there are plenty of ledges to get busy on, grass pyramids to slide down as well as amazing crepes nearby.

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Under the shadow of la Tour Eiffel and on the banks of La Seine you will find some of the smoothest marble on the planet. The first real international coverage this peach plaza copped was via Penny, Geoff and Rune in 411 #2 but it was the Hubba supremacy of Flo Marfaing who etched the actual potential into our scones.

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Anyone who visited EMB (without getting the boot from Kelch) will verify that it was far from perfect, especially considering the size of the wheels at the time. It was nevertheless amazing terrain, which included all kinds of ledges, gaps, stairs and curbs. EMB was the epicentre of skate progression in the early nineties and lives forever on in all our hearts.

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After the demise of EMB there was a need for another home base. Luckily just a stone’s throw away, a little block and manual spot popped up. Sure the ledges were not as long, nor as textured as EMB, but at least the SF scene kept its momentum. No one owned the spot like Marcus McBride, but plenty of rippers added some iconic moments to the rather confined Nor Cal hotspot.

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3rd and Army came at a time when most of SF’s great plazas were either being threatened or destroyed. As rumour has it, Mike Carroll spotted this brand new spanker from a nearby freeway. Ever since then its fat tubes, quick-footed lines, rock gaps and ghetto quarters have etched their way into our brains.

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This place was made famous by Guy Mariano’s natural quarter pipe frontside ollie in Blind’s Video Days and mention mental gap to ledge antics from him and comrades (see SJ’s 180 switch k for instance). In recent years the spot has become a real downtown LA focus, home to a certain plaza-loving Mr. Kalis and is an effervescent, refreshing outdoor alternative to indoor training facilities of LA.

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Barcelona was given an Olympic-induced facelift during the early nineties and the main train station was garnished with a skateboard paradise that the city had never seen the likes of. Over time tales of the picnic tables and ledges of Sants were heard of on the other side of the Atlantic and they became one of the regions premier skate magnets. Despite visits from the world’s best it is the locals who have remained supreme with their knowledge of the textured plaza.

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The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art was open to the public in 1995 and soon became a skateboarder’s alternative to the tried and tested grounds of Sants Station. During its heyday it was definitely one of those places where you had more skate perverts than skateboarders, but its place as a hall of progression has remained cemented.

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Paral-lel (Barcelona)

Paral-lel receives its name because unlike any other in the city the street is actually parallel to the equator! The street runs all the way from the port up to Plaça d'Espanya. The actual location of the skate spot is at Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies. The yellow plaza is easily recognisable with its smooth ground, ledges, manual pads and benches. Just watch out for those seeds from the trees above, they are probably the most effective chalky in the world.

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Your Chris Halls’, your Reese Forbes’ and your Bobby Worrests’ drew mental lines all over this joint but no one sprinkled it with the pizazz of Lord Pepe Martinez in the early Underworld Element videos. Through his modernity and slick styles Pepe was the one who really cemented the worldwide notoriety of this joint. “Freedom Plaza" is a total bust to this very day but this didn’t stop Worrest from filming an entire part there this year!

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Love has been getting a right seeing to by skaters for a quarter of a century now. So many facets to this spot, and so many iconic lines and moments have taken place here. At time of press Love remains illegal but people are still managing to fit in sessions between busts. Love was central to the mid-nineties Eastern Exposure/Sub Zero era and has continued to reinvent itself to this very day.

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Vale Anhangabau is an extensive boardwalk slab located in the middle of São Paulo. Despite the impurity of the air, skate culture is alive and well on this dwelling. The unique angles and combinations of ledges give the locals unique flavour and mastery. If you are lucky you might even peep the block skills of Marcelo Amador who takes ledge dancing combos to the next level.

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Klaus Bohm, Kickflip Shifty, Sao Paulo. Photo by Sem Rubio.

The legendary spot's recent facelift (reason why it looks different to the photo in the clip) has blessed the locals with a busy assortment of ledges varying in size and material. The ground is exotically smooth and even the wooden ledges grind like skatepark steel. The whole scenario lies above street level, but this doesn’t stop rigorous pedestrian traffic or marching bands.

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This is one of those far from perfect spots, that somehow, through devotion from its locals was made to look absolutely devine. Paul Shier really had his way with this one. His cheeky inside of planter box action added a whole new chapter to our archives. Crustier than ever: Croydon’s Fairfields is still being skated nowadays.

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berlin

So many spots in this area, but it is the Piatzzetta which has the best flow. Located on a speedy slope with everything you could possibly want from banks, to ledges, to rails and double sets. During the summer it is an outdoor cinema at night and skateboard seminar by day. A location for both those who are aware of, an uninitiated with shred planks to evoke the stoke.

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Italy’s main train station is also one of the best natural street spots in Europe. You would be hard done by to find a skater not familiar with the over-the-grate ledge or the mini street gap out the front. If you are ever in the fashion capital a golden-lit session on the beige blocks of Milano is recommended.

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urbis

Urbis is an uber-modern building in the middle of Manchester. The Cathedral Gardens that lie beneath Urbis were brought into our consciousness via the balance skills of Joe Gavin. The main feature is a semi-circular big three that served perfect for all kinds of ledge to manual combos. Unfortunately an over the top serve of skate capping was laid down in 2010 minimising lines a great deal.

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After the Bali Bombings of 2002, Melbourne’s Lincoln Square was given a little refurbishment in ode to the many Australian’s who died. The new plaza has since become the capital of Melbournian skateboarding. It is often home to sessions consisting of dozens at a time and despite local residents complaints, remains a Melbourne skate favourite.

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The home of what was simply known as The Pit (a somewhat dysfunctional amphitheater), had a major make over in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics. Locals were distraught that the pit had gone, but what replaced it was probably more valid for modern skating. Martin Place is split over four city blocks and has popped up in everything from Zero videos to the Matrix.

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Jarmers Plads is named after the ruins of the Medieval Jarmers Tower which lie near the intersection-based plaza. The main feature of Jarmers is a series of white rectangular benches, which have acted as ledge training grounds for the Danish locals since 1997. The pavers are laid in a way that leads to a uni-directional flow; luckily this is the same direction that the ledges face.

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lloyds

Located at the base of the Lloyds Bank building in Bristol is a set of white amphitheatre steps. Sure on a sunny day it is a great place to eat your lunch, but an even better locale to shred they board. Some of the first footage we saw from this joint was from Danny Wainwright in early 411’s and it still pops up to this very day. Depending on your appetite you can skate the slightly rounded ledges or huck the big three. No one has landed a bigger variety of tricks down the three than spring-footed local Koran Gayle.

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This plaza, located in the Martínez of Madrid is a dedication to Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish). The elders amongst you may remember this from Nor Cal distribution ads in Slap Magazine. It was the place where Dani le Bron and Jesus Fernandez sharpened their ledge teeth and where Dan Drehobl performed an almighty tailslide on an old Hell Ride.

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LP was named after Philly’s Love Park by Shanghai locals. The ledges are smooth and plentiful and this was initially thrust into super stardom via Fully Flared era but has continued as a mainstay in videos ever since. While the rest of us struggle with polished granite, the locals of LP glide on the some of the blackest, most truck-friendly marble the planet has seen.

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Peace Park or Place de la Paix was finished in 1994 and was homage to Montreal becoming a nuclear-free zone back in 1986. Most of the plaza is a combo of slab and grass (not the best skate surface) but the perimeter is lined with chunky brown ledges. If you can perform all the basics at Peace, you are going to be one step ahead in the ledge game. The spot has been recently sanctioned as a legal skate spot!

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Letna Square was home to a giant Stalin monument from 1955-62. The sculpture stood several stories high and towered over Prague. Once the monument was destroyed a seemingly useless plaza was left in its wake. In the early nineties the area underneath the statue’s plinth was used by a pirate radio station and then later on as a rock club, but no one has gotten the area more coverage than the skateboarders of today. A must visit for anyone; the view is worth the trip alone.

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courthouse

The LA Courthouse is an early to mid-nineties progression ground that has been recently thrust back into the limelight due to liberation. Back twenty years ago its fountains, steps, ledges and stage set the precedent for modern levels of pop, balance and technicality. So many masters were in effect early on and it was a common backdrop for NBD’s in its heyday.

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