In a skateboarding context, Library Gardens is the Macba of Johannesburg. Opened in 1935, and designed by architect John Perry, Library Gardens (formally known as Johannesburg City Library) has become a popular South African skate spot. Most downtown Johannesburg skaters have spent countless hours having sessions at this very spot. If only they had Thrasher and Session mags on the library shelves haha.
The library was initially a small shack on Kerk Street, a few blocks away from where it stands today. After the Anglo Boer war (1899 – 1902), the plot of land located at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road & Fraser Street was bought in 1924 and in 1929 the construction of the library was started as an attempt to bring some culture to the town. It was complete and opened in 1935, however, only white people were allowed to use it. All ethnic groups were allowed into the library from 1974. The library was closed for about 3 years, from 2009 to 2012 due to renovations which cost around R68,000,000. These renovations included lifts, uncapped wifi, 560 seat study area and sky lights to name a few. The library houses a collection of more than 1,700,000 items.
The library has proved to be a significant structure for the general public, but has definitely become the staple of downtown Jozi skateboarding. Library Gardens (LBGs) has an array of skate obstacles including stairs, ledges, manual pads, slappy curbs, drops and gaps, all laid out on a brick surface. One downside to its current state is the fact that part of the library grounds has been fenced off, which makes it hard to skate the other side, but if you’re really determined you could have a few attempts before getting kicked out.
Countless sessions and events have taken place at LBGs like the 2014 Redbull Unlocked, the Converse skate jam and many more skate jams by smaller companies and individuals.
Needless to say that it really is the epicenter of downtown Jozi skateboarding. Some of the ledges have become pretty beat as you can imagine, after years of trucks grinding against them, but such imperfections add to the character of the spot and make it fun to skate.