Rolling Skating Back to the Past

Ah, who can forget roller skating in Miami! Remember when you skated through your neighborhood on a sunny afternoon or grooved to the music on the roller rink dance floor? Get ready to lace up your skates to roll back in time in this edition of Learning from Miami featuring a roller skating spectacular from Miami’s past.

Inline roller skates were first introduced in 1735 by John Joseph Merlin, a Belgian who famously showed off his new wheeled shoes at a masquerade party in London and promptly crashed into a mirror.

Roller skates wouldn’t be perfected until 1863, when an American inventor named James Plimpton designed ‘modern’ roller skates that had four wheels aligned two by two on a platform that would strap onto the bottom of a shoe. This allowed skaters to turn on a smooth curve and even skate backwards which greatly increased the popularity of roller skates.

Roller skating surged in America during the Great Depression as a ‘cheap’ source of transportation and entertainment. The roller sport steadily grew in popularity over the years, but took another huge leap in the 1970’s and 1980’s as skating rinks and roller skating gained momentum. With South Florida’s appealing year-round weather, skating was a way of life for many of us and several venues became popular locations for roller enthusiasts. Today, there is one rink in Miami that remains as the hub of all things roller skating where you can still boogie-down in your quads.

– Ursa Gil

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