Rollerskating on the Brooklyn waterfront feels like a fever dream you might’ve had while suffering through chickenpox as a kid. It is lighthearted, scenic, and while you’re there, your imagination runs wild. (Only this time you won’t wake up wanting to scratch the bejeezus out of your skin!) Thankfully though, that dream you’ve been itching for is now a reality, so lace up and get ready – it’s time to spin those wheels over at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The set of manicured piers here could easily be an attraction relegated to wedding photos and tourist checklists, but the lineup at the waterfront park seems to keep even us cynical city folk coming back for more. What was once a long line of defunct shipping yards has turned into six piers of activities and events. The roller rink is the newest edition to Pier 2, joining shuffleboard, basketball, bocce and handball courts, along with a small collection of fitness equipment.
So what makes this rink so special? Well, it’ll be joining one of only a handful of its kind still operating around the city. James Plimpton, a businessman from Massachusetts, invented the sport back in 1863 when he created the first rollerskate with wheels that could turn when needed. Soon enough, people around the country were speeding around on these early skates. It wasn’t until around World War II, though, that rollerskating really caught on, with the establishing of the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association. The group promoted the sport and made it fun, creating standardized rinks and maintaining them all around America. But, as TV became a more popular pastime in the 1950s, the crowd at the rinks started to dwindle again.
Luckily, in the 1970s, plastic wheels made it easier to skate (and disco music made it sexy). Then things really got poppin’. Roller rinks opened up everywhere. New York became the home of legendary rinks like the Empire Roller Skating Center in Crown Heights, the Roxy in Chelsea or Skate Key in Mott Haven. All of them have since shut down, but back then coasting around with wheels on your feet was the thing to do, and roller discos were the place to be.
Could we see it all making a comeback with this new addition in Brooklyn? Certainly. And the views of the skyline looming just beyond the rink don’t hurt at all, either. Right now, the rink offers public skating 7 days a week, in addition to hosting recreational league play for roller hockey and roller derby. We’d also recommend establishing a disco night here ASAP.
Want to roll around for yourself? Public skate times range from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. throughout the week, and hours vary week-to-week, so check here before heading over. Admission also varies from $3 to $8 depending on the skating session, and lessons are offered for $10 per person. Rollerskates and rollerblades are each $6 a pair to rent.