Foxes and Nikes and skateboarders! Oh, my!

As reported in our episode of The Source on San Francisco’s Mt. Sutro, there have been various names given to that hill (which doesn’t actually qualify as a mountain).  But there have also been many uses for it besides the current major one, which is hiking.

Residents today might be surprised to learn about a Nike missile radar station on that peak. “We didn’t have an actual missile, but we had everything to help make one get into orbit,” say Dan Schneider of the Sutro Stewards, the group working to rehabilitate the trails on Mt. Sutro. “It was a large facility with a great view. At that time the trees had grown up, so it gave it some strategic cover.” This was in the decade just before The Summer of Love, by the way.

We know that if life gives us lemons, then we need to make lemonade. And if life provides a secluded mountaintop with abandoned parking lots and plenty of pavement, then the logical thing to make is an unauthorized place to skateboard. Today, cities pay to build such parks, but in the 1980s, skateboarding had a real rebel reputation. Schneider says, “They were able to build their own little skate park. And apparently, a couple of notable riders did in fact hang out there.” He’s reluctant to name names until he see photos from the period, which he knows exist. And perhaps that’s just as well. As with any history, he says, “Sometimes the legend is a little bit better than the actual story.”