Thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement and its (now disrupted) residence in Zuccotti Park, the phenomenon of the privately owned public space, or POPS, has gotten a lot of attention lately.

A smooth ride.

Not all POPS are outdoors. Today we came across a very interesting video of skateboarders and roller skaters using indoor space in an East London shopping mall after hours. From Tim Gill’s intriguing blog Rethinking Childhood:

I’d been tipped off about the spectacle by Eleanor Fawcett at OPLC, who regularly walks through the mall in the evenings. She tells me there can be as many as 20 skaters on some nights: male and female, different ages, and a culturally diverse crowd too (reflecting this part of East London).

Apparently the route through the mall is a 24-hour public right of way. The site security seems relaxed about its nocturnal uses. This may be all to the good. It is certainly Eleanor’s view that they make the place feel safer for her, as someone who often has no choice but to come through the mall late at night on her way home.


Skateboarders are often the people who “activate” underused public spaces in downtowns. A lot of the time, they’re seen as a public nuisance and chased away by security and police, so it’s interesting to see this type of use tolerated in a mall. It’s also telling, given the bad rap that teenagers often get, that the woman who reported the use felt that the skateboarders increased her safety, rather than threatening it.

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