Stunning Photos From Skateboarding’s Golden Age

Published June 26, 2017
Updated November 13, 2018

Before it became a multibillion-dollar empire, skateboarding was simply a productive way for surfers to wait out a dry spell.

70s Skateboard Culture Arthurs Attitude
"Arthur's Attitude (Arthur Lake), Kenter Canyon Elementary," 1976. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Locals Only
"Hollywood Local," 1976. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Jay Adams
"In Your Face (Jay Adams), Kenter Canyon," 1976. Jay Adams was an original member of team Zephyr. He died in 2014. Hugh Holland

Upside Down
“Hardstanding on the beach. Danny Kwock, Balboa,” 1975.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Balboa
"Hangin' in Balboa," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture South Bay
"South Bay Gang," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Asphalt Angel
"Asphalt Angel, Kenter Canyon," 1976.Hugh Holland

Side Board
“Reach out,” 1976.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Peralta Coldwater
"Stacy Peralta Ripping at Coldwater Canyon Pool," 1977. One year later, Stacy Peralta would become one of the founders of Powell-Peralta, the company that would later give us the Bones Brigade, another groundbreaking team that brought much attention to the sport. Hugh Holland

Jesus Saves
"Jesus Saves, Marina Del Ray," 1977.Hugh Holland

On Board
"I'll be on the street," 1975.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Sidewalk Surfer
"Sidewalk Surfer, Huntington Beach," 1976. Hugh Holland

Dusk Skate
“Last light at Kenter Canyon,” 1976.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Tube Socks
"Tube Socks on Board, Marina Del Rey Skate Park," 1977. Hugh Holland

Looking Down
“Green coping,” 1976.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Carlsbad
"Carlsbad Skate Park," January 1977. One of the first skate parks to open its gates. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Schoolyard
"Schoolyard Invasion, Brentwood," 1976. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Collision
"Collision on the Ramp, Redondo Beach Pier," 1975.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Skate Snack
"Skate Snack, Del Mar," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Over Light
"Over the Light, Santa Monica," 1976.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Left Turn
"Left Turn Only, Orange County," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Pit Stop
"Sidewalk Surfer Pit Stop, Huntington Beach," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Spectators
"Skate Contest Spectators, Torrance," 1975.Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Lineup
"Team Line-Up," 1970s. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Flying Bull
"Flying Bull on the Ramp," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Del Mar Daffy
"Del Mar Daffy," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Canyon Sunset
"Canyon Sunset Ride, Hollywood Hills," 1975. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Viper
"The Viper," 1976. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Solo
"Solo, Kenter Canyon Elementary," 1976. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Off Wall
"Off the Wall Reach," 1976. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Pool Shred
"He Shreds this Pool," 1977. Hugh Holland

70s Skateboard Culture Dog Day
"Dog Day Down, Kenter Canyon Elementary," 1976. Hugh Holland

It was 1975 when Hugh Holland happened upon a gang of skateboarders cruising the drainage ditches of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles, California. Holland knew he had found the next subject of his photographic endeavors.

Holland would go on to capture images of the sport, along with its accompanying culture, over the next three years. His timing couldn't have been better: Skateboarding, once an activity for surfers who wanted to get their adrenaline going when the ocean just wasn't supplying it, was well on its way to becoming the nearly $5 billion empire it is today.

High demand for the exploding sport meant that skate parks started popping up all over California -- and the rest of the country -- at around this time period. But given the risks that come with the sport, liability insurance premiums were high, and many of the parks struggled to stay open. Thus, boarding in a neighbor's empty pool became a popular alternative.

Before Holland bade adieu to skateboarding, he captured the careful choreography of Zephyr team (the Z-boys) members -- including legendary skateboarders Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, and Jay Adams -- at a time when skate tricks were not something you memorized but made.


For more, check out our collection of female skateboarders from the 1970s and the world's most extreme sports.

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.