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Empire Skate: The Birthplace of Roller Disco
July 8 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Empire Skate: The Birthplace of Roller Disco brings the world of Crown Heights’ Empire Roller Skating Center to life, exploring its role as a national icon and a focal point of the African-American community in Brooklyn.
Empire was a landmark in Brooklyn from the time it opened its floors in 1941 to its closing day in 2007. Converted from the old Ebbets Field parking garage, Empire was famous as the birthplace of roller disco, a skate craze that swept the nation in the 70s and 80s. Locally it was known as a place where New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds could come together; where grandparents showed grandchildren their favorite moves, and former gang members and Hasidic Jews skated side by side.
Empire Skate: The Birthplace of Roller Disco brings the world of Empire to life, exploring its role as a cultural icon and a community hub. Artifacts, archival materials, video, and first-hand interviews, come together to share the stories of the people who skated at Empire during the 70s and 80s and will immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the rink.
Through the examined histories of and around Empire, connections between roller skating and larger narratives of race, class, and urbanization in America are uncovered. Beyond the roller disco movement, the exhibit traces the history of roller skating in the United States, highlighting the diversity of rinks around the country and the unique history of skating in New York City, which was home to over 20 rinks at its skating peak.
In conjunction with this exhibit, the City Reliquary presents Summer of Skate, a series of roller skate feature films and documentaries that will be screened in the museum’s garden the second Friday of the month, June through September