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A bold look at the creative, controversial, and vibrant history of skateboarding, and the amazing skaters who continually reinvent it
Skateboarding isn't just a recreational activity, but a professional sport, lifestyle, art form, and cultural phenomenon. The striking book Four Wheels and a Board captures its spirited history, iconic skateboarders, diverse community, and the palpable passion of the people who love it. It includes contributions from the most influential names in the game, including Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk, Mimi Knoop, and more.
The gorgeously designed book presents objects, artifacts, and photographs from the Smithsonian’s collections that exemplify the vitality and innovation of skate culture. Book chapters are organized chronologically by decade from the '60s to present day, starting with 20th-century surfboards, moving through technological changes, the disappearance of skate parks, the rise of social media and collaborations, and ending with never-before-seen objects from the 2020 Summer Olympics, where skateboarding made its historic Olympic debut.
Largely invented by youth, skateboarding has attracted punks, misfits, and dreamers looking for somewhere to belong. The book features skateboards and skaters who open dialogues about race, the gender binary, queerness, the displacement of Native people, and so much more, shining a light on people and places not often represented in traditional skateboard history. Four Wheels and a Board is a fresh look at a transformative culture, and one hell of a ride.
About the Author
BETSY GORDON is a co-organizer of Innoskate, a festival celebrating invention and creativity in skate culture, and curated Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. JANE ROGERS is sports curator specializing in extreme and adaptive sports history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. She curated Everyone Plays! A History of Adaptive Sports and Snowboarding.
BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has been collecting skateboard artifacts for years, and now selections from that trove of material are brought together with contributions from some of the sport's legendary figures in a visually stunning volume that documents the impact of skateboarding on global culture... Guaranteed to spark interest with a wide age range and a diverse community of readers.
"There hasn’t been a book quite as comprehensive and wide-ranging as Four Wheels and a Board. It really gets the bit between its teeth and tries to cover everything: history, clothing & fashion, skateparks, gender and sexism, punk, technology, ramps, music, counterculture and skating personalities.[...] Whether you are into hardware, graphics, graffiti, clothing, nostalgia, or the social, industrial, countercultural and business elements of skateboarding, or culture in general, there is something for you here."
"This is not just 'another' book about the history, that some of us just know very well, or even have been a more or less active part. This is more! [...] No matter what you look for, it is all here."
“Betsy Gordon and Jane Rogers have compiled an array of voices as diverse and inclusive as the Smithsonian’s collection—here are the people, places, artifacts, and stories that have shaped the global phenomenon called skateboarding, each one a testament to the longing at its core. Rare is the history that becomes, in its telling, part of its subject’s arc. With this book, skateboarding enters a new stage of its ongoing evolution, and grows even richer.” - Kyle Beachy, co-host of skateboard podcast Vent City and author of The Most Fun Thing: Dispatches from a Skateboard Life
“Skateboarding has given me the lens through which I see the world to this day, and Four Wheels and a Board gets it all down.” - Pharell Williams, American rapper, record producer, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, and skateboarder.
“Four Wheels and a Board showcases the dynamic evolution of skateboarding from a surf-offshoot-curiosity to one of the most influential forces in contemporary culture. Throughout are insider stories and images from the people whose visceral, eclectic creativity, and renegade spirit pushed the sport and culture of skateboarding forward.” - Shepard Fairey, an American contemporary artist, activist and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene.
“Four Wheels and a Board: The Smithsonian History of Skateboarding opens a window into skateboarding's complex and diverse past. While providing context with skateboarding's more traditional narratives, this book sheds light upon the often ignored women-led brands, BIPOC greats, queer pioneers, and beyond. The context of publications such as this are incredibly relevant today as we continue to create a more inclusive skateboarding community for all.”
- Kristin Ebeling, Executive Director, Skate Like a Girl
“A fascinating deep dive into this diverse, lifestyle, culture, artform, obsession, “sport” that so has so deeply and positively impacted generation after generation. Connecting the dots and exploring this wonderful world of skateboarding. Dive in there’s so much to discover and be inspired by!”
- Bod Boyle, President, Dwindle Distribution
“Decade by decade, this book takes you on the journey that crafted America’s greatest invention—the skateboard.” - Miki Vuckovich, photographer and Director Of Development at USA Skateboarding
"This colorful book by Betsy Gordon and Jane Rogers chronicles the fascinating history of skateboarding as told by some of its founding fathers. Perhaps more importantly, it explains some of its unique culture, and what makes it very special for those willing to fall and get back up again and again. If you are not a skater, this is a good place to begin to understand why skateboarding has captured so many of the hearts and minds of young and old alike." - George Powell, Founder and President of Skate One