Tyre Fight
11 May 2020

10 Things You Didn't Know About The 2004 Brooklyn Banks Animal Jam

Who Needs Permits...

Originally published in DIG Issue 90 "The Legends Issue" September 2012 | Words Brian Tunney | Photos Ricky Adam

In light of the recent news that the infamous Brooklyn Banks are under threat again, we figured we'd take a look back at our Legendary Spots print article that unearthed some little known facts on the first Animal Jam there, in memory of the legendary Joe Tiseo back in 2004. Enjoy this slice of history and please help save the banks if you can...

Vinnie Sammon X Grind

Vinnie Sammon

Wessel Pneumatic Drill

Nate Wessell

1. The week before the jam, Animal owner Ralph Sinisi brought Nate Wessel out to build ramps that could be broken down, carted across the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey to midtown Manhattan, and then driven to downtown Manhattan. Nate stayed at a hotel in Weehawken, N.J. along the Hudson River, and occupied the majority of the hotel parking lot to construct ramps very early in the morning on the day of the jam.

2. After transporting ramps through the tunnel and driving downtown, a crew of riders, including employees and friends of Animal, started loading ramps into the area that encompassed the Brooklyn Banks. I vaguely remember a construction worker yelling at us for parking in an unauthorized area, and I told him something to the effect of “We’re from the Brooklyn Banks restoration association, here to help build and restore ramps.” And that was the only interference from any official in New York City that day.

3. There were no permits. In the spirit of Ron Wilkerson’s 2-hip Meet The Street at the Brooklyn Banks in 1989, nothing official was put on paper by Animal or the City of New York to say that close to a thousand BMXers could congregate next to Police Plaza underneath the Brooklyn Bridge on that late September day.

Heavy Heavy Grind Box
Ramp Moving

4. Someone did a perfect feeble grind to crankflip/barspin on the 500 lb. grind box we transported into the area later in the day. To this day, I’ve never seen anyone replicate that move.

5. Wessel had grand plans to expand the Banks once on site. Before most of the riders had arrived, he even attempted to secure a flat bar into the top of the Banks with a drill that could penetrate concrete. The flat bar only lasted a few icepicks, but you’ve gotta give Nate credit for trying.

6. The first jam was also one of the first times Van Homan had ridden New York City or the Brooklyn Banks. Despite living a few hours away in South Jersey, Van was not a seasoned NYC local. In true Homan fashion though, he showed up and fired out a handful of insane moves (including a transfer from the Wessel-built quarter to the outside of the big rail.)

7. During a part of the day that morphed into a long jump contest, North Jersey legend Grimaldo Duran blasted his way close to thirty feet, ejecting straight into a serious leg injury that plagued him for years afterwards. For many of us, the day of the jam was the last day we would see Grimaldo for at least a few years while he recovered.

Mike Beekman Tailwhip

Mike Beekman.

"I thought it would never end, and didn’t want it to."

Ralph Sinisi, 2012

8. Sometime during the day, a car using the entrance ramp onto the bridge flung a double-sided sex toy into the crowd of riders that had assembled at the Banks. After a few minutes of the toy being tossed back and forth throughout the crowd, it was thrown back onto the entrance ramp.

9. East Coast Destruction legend Clipper backflipped off a kicker, over the Brooklyn Banks rail and onto the higher part of the banks (atop the stairs) in a motorcycle helmet. The crowd chanted his name for minutes afterwards, and according to Paul “Deuce” Plawa, Clipper thought he would finally get sponsored after pulling the backflip.

10. Jeremy Barcik remains the only person to have ever fufanu’d the top of the horizontal Brooklyn Banks rail (the part at the top of the stairs. Rest in peace.

Jeremy Barcik Fufanu

Jeremy Barcik

Unknown Abubaca

Joey Spinoza


Ralph Trying To Look Busy

Where are the banks?

Manhattan, New York City.

Date of first comp?

September 2004. Second was August 14th 2005. It rained. Third one was September 23rd, 2007.

Why there?

Just made sense to get people together to ride at the epicenter of NYC BMX. We wanted to get heads real open to throw down some bigger shit than ever happened there before. No spot had more history or could handle the type of sessions that happened. Plus the Banks had been closed off for a year prior and had just re-opened.

Why did they stop?

Shit was getting too out of control and we thought someone was gonna die.

What was the most memorable moment?

Probably just how crazy the second one was with so many people. It was just one crazy session after another on each part of the banks all day and night. Hundreds of people would just run to a rail or bank when someone would try something crazy and the insanity would begin, and every lunatic would try anything they could on that obstacle. I thought it would never end, and didn’t want it to.

How many people were at the biggest one?

The second one was the biggest and probably had over 1000 riders. After people heard about the first one and it got a lot of hype; no one missed the second year.

Got any other random unknown facts?

Probably that we didn’t even announce any of the jams until the week before they happened. This was pretty crazy back then since the Internet wasn’t like it is now and it traveled by word of mouth to so many people that quickly.

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