Red Bull's Hart Lines brings top street skaters to Detroit

click to enlarge Quentin Boyer jumping onto “basement 9 rail” - Photo credit: Dominic Palarchio
Photo credit: Dominic Palarchio
Quentin Boyer jumping onto “basement 9 rail”

Hart Plaza has a long history when it comes to skateboarding. 

For decades, it's been generally regarded as the gateway skatespot to any outsiders who venture into the city, and skateboarders come from all over the state to battle the many skateable obstacles (and the area's vigilant security guard team). 
Anyone who is even remotely in the Detroit skate scene can name all of the tricks that have been landed down the “Big T” gap (the pyramid-like blocks by the riverfront, named after the first person to successfully ollie them generations ago), and they probably have some intense story that may or may not involve a homeless person with a machete. Endless hours of video have been produced by local skateshops and crews over the years, all searching for the next dopest trick or unique way to document their sessions at Hart. The plaza is actually considered legendary amongst the local scene in all action sports, and its history dates back long before anyone wanted to bring an event within stones throw of the city (aside from the Hoedown or DEMF but come on). 

As skateboarders, we’re slowly seeing the endlessly talked about “change” downtown as they are going out of their way to make more and more iconic skate spots in the city “unskateable". Just last week myself and a few others were kicked out of Hart Plaza by security three times and told, “There isn’t skateboarding allowed anywhere in Hart Plaza," — unless you're with Red Bull, that is.  

click to enlarge Red Bull's Hart Lines brings top street skaters to Detroit
Photo by Ryan Taylor
For the second year in a row Red Bull brings its Hart Lines competition to Detroit’s Hart Plaza on May 14-15, and if you haven’t heard about it or you missed it last year, Ryan Sheckler and a handful of his pro skateboarder buddies (the top 25 street skaters from around the world, to be exact) come to the Motor City to compete on a prebuilt Red Bull skate course. 

click to enlarge Red Bull's Hart Lines brings top street skaters to Detroit
Photo: Morgan Somers
The setup snakes through a nearly completely transformed Hart Plaza, which is laced with ramps, rails and ledges alongside the many stair sets and obstacles that are already there. It's free to come out and watch, and is definitely one of the only times metro Detroiters will have the opportunity to witness some of the best skateboarders on the planet.

While an event like this could potentially alienate local skaters, that's not the case. Hart Lines includes a local section of the competition, where some of the best skateboarders from Michigan will square off against one another on the course. Plus, Modern Skate Shop and a slew of other shops are allowed to submit a couple team riders they sponsor into the event to compete before the pros. (Somehow they forgot Transitions, which is the longest-running park in metro Detroit, but we will chalk that up as a mystery for another day.)

As skateboarders, just like the rest of the citizens in Detroit, we are finally seeing the era where the industry is showing love to our city, and supporting the scene. It isn’t every day you get to witness people who are this level of incredible at their craft, especially for free, and its definitely not every day you get to attend an event of this caliber within the city limits. 

The event finals will be livestreamed on Red Bull TV on May 15, for more information, visit

click to enlarge Evan Smith doing a kickflip at last years Hart Lines - Photo: Morgan Somers
Photo: Morgan Somers
Evan Smith doing a kickflip at last years Hart Lines

Scroll to read more Arts articles


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.