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Dead Spots & The Forgotten #2: Hohokam Banks

This series will be dedicated to old skate spots around Arizona. Most of the places I will be talking about are no longer skate-able. I will be posting some forgotten/neglected spots that are still very much alive but forgotten for whatever reason. If you have a spot that you would like me to cover, send me an email: ryan@azpx.com


Intro:

From Wikipedia: “The term Hohokam, borrowed from the Akimel O’odham, is used to define an archaeological culture that existed from the beginning of the current era to about the middle of the 15th century AD. As an abstract construct, this culture was centered on the middle Gila River and lower Salt River drainage, in what is known as the Phoenix basin. In North America, the Hohokam were the only culture to rely on irrigation canals to water their crops, and their irrigation systems supported the largest population in the Southwest by AD 1300.”

Ahh, ancient irrigation systems…it’s what makes skateboarding in Arizona so special. Those fucking civil engineers did us good by covering any and all existing ancient irrigation systems with good ol’ concrete, a skateboarder’s best friend. The Hohokam ditch, not named for the ancient builders of such ditch but for the expressway that flanks it. The jewel of the skate ditch system, Hohokam drew the best skateboarders and it was always a go-to spot when in the area. Super sessions went down on the daily during rush hour traffic, with motorists tripping out on the scene. So many good memories to recollect. Here is my favorite: I think around 1986-87. It was a late weekend night and the partying was winding down. My roommate Matt and I were bored and decided to round out the night with midnight run to Hohokam. Did the usual, pulled my ’73 Bug right up to the side of the ditch, opened both doors and proceeded to blare JFA’s ‘Valley of the Yakes’ on my car’s cassette player. Even for how late it was there was one dude there sessioning by himself. We kinda said ‘Hey’ to each other but pretty much just started skating. Within minutes I noticed something particular about this solo homie who was absolutely shredding the fucking shit out of the ditch. Dude was doing manuevers I have never seen in the gnarliest aggro style, catching lines I never knew existed. Then I noticed he was riding a JFA Skateboard. I put 2 and 2 together and figured out I was skating with Brian Brannon, the lead singer of JFA and one of the rippingest skaters in AZ. I hit him up about it and of course he played it off cool as he always does, me knowing he had to have a little chuckle when we pulled up playing his music. That chance meeting turned into a friendship that is alive and well to this day. Without that meeting, I probably would not have had all the rad opportunities working with JFA over the years. Thank you Hohokam and thank you Skateboarding-Rob Blogger

Hohokam banks was a popular skate spot in the late 70’s through the 80’s, it’s still there but you can’t really skate it because of some concrete and rocks that was poured in the bottom around 89-90. It is located on University & 48th St. in Tempe, Arizona. Hohokam was awesome because at the base of the ditch where the flat meets bank, there were little transitions built into the banks. You could pump through them and generate speed. There are parts of the banks as it turns north that looks like you can still skate, but the main section has been dead for 20+ years. The banks were featured in a Kryptonics advertisement in Thrasher Magazine with Brian Brannon doing some sort of tail block on a curb. Hohokam was a blast to skate and wasn’t a bust for a long time. At some point the cops were told to crack down on the “trespassers” and you couldn’t skate more than 5 minutes or so before Tempe’s finest would show up and give you a field card. Then one day they filled the bottom with concrete and loose rock which killed the spot for good.

We used to session Hohokam at night a lot, we would pull a car up close, turn the headlights on and crank some tunes. I learned sweepers and front side boneless there. I was mainly a street skater back then so this was considered transition skating to me. If you went early in the morning you probably saw Alan Cruz doing inverts there while wearing full pads. He was one of many locals that shredded Hohokam during it’s run through the 80’s.

RIP Hohokam

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