R.I.P. Hubba Hideout
The long-time iconic San Francisco skate spot, Hubba Hideout, is being destroyed. According to city employees who were on hand yesterday erecting fences around the area, the retaining wall ledges that have been a part of street-skating's history since the early '90s are scheduled for removal today. The spot's top ledge was ripped out yesterday.
Until yesterday, the Hubba Hideout was made up of two sets of six long stairs with tall concrete banisters on either side. Located in the heart of the city's Embarcadero, and a stone's throw from Justin Herman Plaza, it was commonly known among skaters as the famed '90s skateboarding mecca "EMB." The banisters became a proving ground where Bay Area skaters would attempt to take their tricks to the next level. Many of these ended up on the covers of magazines, including Thrasher covers of Mike Carroll (crooked grind, December 1992), Carl Shipman (frontside bluntslide, January 1994), and Fred Gall (switch five-0, February 1995) and TransWorld SKATEBoarding's Photo Annual cover in 1998 (Eric Koston backside nosebluntslide).
Organika skateboards pro Karl Watson remembered the Koston trick in a 2006 Skateboarder magazine article: "I was right there for Eric Koston's backside nosebluntslide, and I still couldn't believe it." A Bay Area native himself, Watson added a frontside noseslide frontside 270 out to Hubba Hideout's long list of memorable tricks.
Hubba Hideout got its handle because of the nefarious denizens that would frequent the skate spot looking for a hidden place to engage in illicit activity. The nickname was a nod to the Bay Area slang term for crack cocaine: "hubbas." Hubba Hideout's notoriety and popularity grew so much over the years that the word hubba became shorthand for any ledge-style banister that slanted down a set of stairs. The term has now been embraced by the BMX and snowboard communities as well.
Since Hubba Hideout was never a legalized skate space, there have been numerous attempts over the years to keep skaters from congregating at the spot. Several attempts to make the banisters un-skatable were thwarted when skate stopping devices drilled into the concrete were meticulously removed by an anonymous pro-skateboarding source. Most recently, city workers had removed the bricks in the landing on either side of the base of the staircase and banisters, leaving gravel spaces that skateboards couldn't roll away on. Still, skaters eager to make their mark on a historic spot would bring their own plywood to make it temporarily skateable again.
As of press time it is unclear if Hubba Hideout is being removed in order to put a final end to the skateboard sessions in the vicinity, or if it's as part of a greater civic initiative to renovate and remodel the area. One thing is certain: Hubba Hideout holds a place in skateboarding history and will be remembered fondly by those who skated it, and those who were inspired by the photos and footage that emerged from the progressive skateboarding that went down there.