Longboarding, also known as sidewalk surfing and is an action riding on a longer board than a regular skateboard. A longboard has a noticeably bigger size than its counterpart, the skateboard. Other main differences within these two boards are that longboards have greater stability, traction, and durability thanks to the fact that longboards have much larger wheels and lower durometers.
These things and their combination have allowed differentiating longboarding into various disciplines such as downhill, cruiser, slalom, free ride, etc.
Longboard is a mix of surfing and skateboarding that first started in Hawaii around 1959 when the first mass-produced skateboards appeared. Legit skateboards used to sell in big department stores such as Sears and some neighborhood shops, but skateboards were often seen as toys.
Skateboarding developed in Hawaii when surfers realized that the rolling movement of skateboards mimicked the motion of the waves. On low surfing days, or it was too risky to go into the water, the surfers could proceed to ride the sidewalks. In California, same as in Hawaii, skateboarding became instantly popular among surfers and teens. Skateboards grew through the years, becoming shorter and wider especially for tricks. Later, a hunger for a longer, smoother riding board pointed to the invention of the modern longboard.
Early skateboards were most of the time homemade, created by taking the wheels from old-fashioned roller skates and adding them to a plank or board, made in backyards by teenagers. Teenage boys often made the longer boards because commercial skateboards were sold as toys, and were too short for them to ride or do tricks.
Urethane Wheels Development
Modern skateboarding and longboarding took off in the 1970s when urethane wheels appeared. These rollers were stronger and made for faster speeds and more versatile boards. The sport quickly expanded to incorporate pool surfing, in which surfers skateboarded in clear pools. These pools were the forerunners of skate parks. The skateboarder culture appeared with the first skate parks. Skate parks mostly disappeared in the early 1980s because of the high insurance costs and lawsuits that led several parks out of business.
Resurgence of the Longboard
The resurgence of longboarding started in the early 1990s when Tony Hawk and other famous boarders made skateboarding and skateboard tricks popular. Scores of men who had been skateboarding for years continued boarding even when they grew older. The huge answer to snowboarding in the 1990s also revived longboarding. Many snowboarders turned to the longboard in the spring and summer months when there was no snow. The 1990s saw an explosion of board culture and interest in all kinds of boarding. Unlike the 1970s, this was no fad. Skateboarding and longboarding have grown to become a serious sport, with competitions that include downhill racing, the X Games, and World Cup Skateboarding.
Watch a video about the history of longboarding here.