Historicizing the Skate Scene of Philly’s Urban LOVE Park is PhotographerJonathan Rentschler
“Revitalizing” a location while displacing a population of people who inhabit a given space is no new “trick.” It actually has a pretty lengthy name: gentrification. For a portion of Philadelphia’s skate and homeless community this meant facing the seizure of Philadelphia’s precious LOVE Park just last year. Despite a good fight against opposing forces, what once was a skate haven and home for those seeking shelter is now becoming a hot commodity for visitors and affluent newcomers. With a camera and a personal investment in the park’s skate history, Jonathan Rentschler documented the final years of a land once occupied by the kick-flipping youngsters. In his book aptly dubbed LOVE, the passionate photographer captured powerful images of what the skate playground once was. Even after the concrete parkland was snatched into new hands, these photos serve as a long-term representation of LOVE Park’s backstory and impact on Philadelphia’s youth culture.
Taken strictly in black and white, the photographs hold a timeless feeling. Not only are the flicks historicizing subcultures born out of John F. Kennedy Plaza, but they capture the essence of LOVE Park itself. Explained in an interview with radical youth culture magazine Huck, Rentschler used B&W film as a way to pay homage to the raw grit that once existed during LOVE Park’s previous years. The photos are also personal, in many ways showcasing his own childhood and understanding of community. Piece through the photos below and get a glimpse into an important period of LOVE Park’s past.