Roller Skating: A History Lesson Part 2

We’re back again for part 2 of a roller skating history lesson. Be sure you check out part 1 to see where we left off on the roller skating timeline.

roller skatesLast time we discussed the history of roller skating as it started in Europe but now it’s time to bring things across the pond and onto more familiar territory! Roller skating first came to America in the 1860’s when inventor James Plimpton came up with a brand new skate design featuring what we now consider to be the ‘standard’ in quad wheel placement. Since earlier designs featured in-line placement of the wheels, Plimpton’s style was considered an ‘out of the box’.  The new wheel placement made it easier for skaters to steer themselves in different directions since they were mounted on carriages that rotated with the shift of weight. Plimpton’s skates were smoother than anything else on the market. Along with designing the skate itself, Plimpton also build a big skating rink in New York City and started the first ‘rental’ service by allowing customers to lease out skates while at the rink! Just like what we do here at Sparkles Hiram!  To help boost the popularity of roller skating, Plimpton also hired famous ballet dancer and skater Jackson Haines, to perform and promote the sport.

The mass production of roller skates came in the late 1800’s after a number of various changes to Plimpton’s original design. Once an average member of the working class could afford his or her own pair of skates, the popularity of skating skyrocketed! The new generation of skaters started trying new and exciting things with their skates and soon expanded the sport by introducing roller hockey and speed skating.

Roller skating became more and more popular throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s at which point skating was “the cool thing to do”. Soon skating and disco music joined forces and created one of the most popular crazes in dance history. Skating advanced from a a recreational activity to a competitive and widely adored past time.

We are so thankful that creative minds like James Plimpton came up with the idea for roller skating, because now we get to enjoy it every day here in Hiram, Ga!

So tell us, are you glad you get to experience roller skating as it is now or do you wish you could jump back in time to see what things were like on the first pair of skates or deep in the DISCO era?

Image from flickr.

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