For all skaters out there who take their decks out to skate parks in New York City to grind and sharpen their ollies, they have one person to thank- NYC skate legend Andy Kessler. The old school skateboarding advocate and one of the leaders of the original Zoo York crew passed away and left us on Monday night in Montauk from cardiac arrest.
By his introduction of what was then a West Coast-only culture onto the mean streets of New York City in the 1970s, Kessler transformed the skating scene, pushing for the East Coast skate movement and giving us the community, culture and lifestyle as we know it today. While Kessler was an integral part of the The Soul Artist of Zoo York in the late 70s (some consider the New York City version of Z-Boys Crew of Dogtown in Santa Monica), the crew really made their place and fame when the late Mark Edmunds published the Zoo York magazine.
Though the original Zoo York crew broke up in the 1980s, Kessler continued to propagate skateboarding in New York City and was instrumental in creating the city’s very first skate park in Riverside Park, as well as dozens more throughout the 5 boroughs. There were still several ongoing plans at the time of his sudden passing, including a documentary about Zoo York, a collaborative sneaker with VANS and a possible autobiography. What survived prior to this unfortunate accident are some brief sequences to the documentary, Deathbowl to Downtown.
Aside from all his accomplishments, Kessler was a good friend to those who knew him in this tight knit community. A fellow brother-in-arms against the push and pull of daily lives and a skaters with skills unlike any. Here is a moving tribute by artist Eric Haze, Andy Kessler – Rest In Peace, My Brother. Rest In Peace.
> NYC Skate Legend Andy Kessler Dies [Gothamist]
> Andy Kessler, Skateboard Hero, Dies At 48 [NY TImes]