CHINA BANKS SAN FRANCISCO, CA.
Although SF legend has it that Arco discovered this famed spot in the early '80s, the first skate photo (according to Phelper) was a Venture ad of Ken Takeda. This man-made brick halfpipe with different-sized benches placed periodically down its corridor has been a must-shred on any visiting skater's San Francisco checklist for years. Challenge yourself to a carve over the small bench (it ain't easy), then try and get to the lip (even harder). Okay, you think you got it going? Now get up on the top rope and back in (not many have). Now think about Julien Stranger backside carving the long bench or Joel Valdez's ollie transfer on the outside of the banks, two stories above certain death on Kearny Street. Mix that all in with an insanely tight transition, rough bricks, huge gatherings of Chinese checker enthusiasts and a roaming security guard with no patience for skateboarders and you have one of the harder spots in SF to actually skate!
Cardiel broke in the block on top with a 50-50, Tim McKenney lipslid it, Tim Upson went over a bench with a heelflip, so did Dan Drehobl with a blind-side ollie, Dennis put his signature Busenitz on it for sure and no denying the smooth stylish tailslide fakie that Phil Shao handed it. Most will agree you can't really mention China Banks without talking about the Think Damage video and the beating that McKenney, Drehobl and Shao served this brick beast. Gnarliest of all, both Drehobl and Jarne Verbruggen got tricks on the top shelf while going over a bench: Dan with a boardslide fakie and Jarne with a hairball crailslide. From the early days of Mickey Reyes, Bryce Kanights, Arco and Tommy Guerrero to a recent kickflip fakie over the bench from Jarne, this spot brings out the gnar in all. Sidenote: first time I ever went filming with Pat Duffy we went to China Banks and he back tailed the top block for a Think ad. What you got? --Schmitty