In the early 1970s, Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of polyurethane, calling his companyCadillac Wheels. Prior to this new material, skateboards wheels were metal or "clay" wheels. The improvement in traction and performance was so immense that from the wheel's release in 1972 the popularity of skateboarding started to rise rapidly again, causing companies to invest more in product development. Nasworthy commissioned artist Jim Evans to do a series of paintings promoting Cadillac Wheels, they were featured as ads and posters in the resurrected Skateboarder magazine, and proved immensely popular in promoting the new style of skateboarding.
In the early 1970s skateparks hadn't been invented yet, so skateboarders would flock and skateboard in such urban places like The Escondido reservoir in San Diego, California. Skateboarding magazine would publish the location and Skateboarders made up nicknames for each location such as the Tea Bowl, the Fruit Bowl, Bellagio, the Rabbit Hole, Bird Bath, the Egg Bowl, Upland Pool and the Sewer Slide. Some of the development concepts in the terrain of skateparks were actually taken from the Escondido reservoir. Many companies started to manufacture trucks (axles) specially designed for skateboarding, reached in 1976 by Tracker Trucks. As the equipment became more maneuverable, the decks started to get wider, reaching widths of 10 inches (250 mm) and over, thus giving the skateboarder even more control. A banana board is a skinny, flexible skateboard made of polypropylene with ribs on the underside for structural support. These were very popular during the mid-1970s and were available in myriad colors, bright yellow probably being the most memorable, hence the name.
In 1975 skateboarding had risen back in popularity enough to have one of the largest skateboarding competition's since the 1960s, the Del Mar National Championships, which is said to have had up to 500 competitors. The competition lasted two days and was sponsored by Bahne Skateboards & Cadillac Wheels. While the main event was won by freestyle spinning skate legend Russ Howell, a local skate team from Santa Monica, California, the Zephyr team, ushered in a new era of surfer style skateboarding during the competition that would have a lasting impact on skateboarding's history. With a team of 12, including skating legends such as Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Peggy Oki & Stacy Peralta, they brought a new progressive style of skateboarding to the event, based on the style of Hawaiian surfers Larry Bertlemann, Buttons Kaluhiokalani and Mark Liddell. Craig Stecyk, a photo journalist for Skateboarder Magazine, wrote and photographed the team shorty afterwards and ran a series on the team called the Dogtown articles, which would eventually immortalized the Zephyr skateboard team. The team became known as the Z-Boys and would go on to become one of the most influential teams in skateboarding's history.
It was soon after that skateboarding contest for cash and prizes using a professional tier system began to be held throughout California, like the The California Free Former World Professional Skateboard Championships, which featured Freestyle and Slalom competitions.
A pre-cursor to the extreme sport of Street luge, that was sanctioned by the United States Skateboarding Association (USSA), also took place during the 1970s in Signal Hill, California. The competition was called "The Signal Hill Skateboarding Speed Run", with several competitors earning entries into the Guinness Book of World Records at the time clocking speeds of over 50 mph on a skateboard. Due to technology and safety concerns at the time, based on many competitors crashing during their runs, the sport did not gain popularity or support during this time.
In March 1976, Skateboard City skatepark in Port Orange, Florida and Carlsbad Skatepark in San Diego County, California, would be the first two skateparks to be opened to the public in just a week apart. They were the first of some 200 skateparks that would be built through 1982. This was due in part to articles that were running in the Investment Journals at the time, stating that skateparks were a good investment. Notable skateboarders from the 1970s also include Ty Page, Tom Inouye, Laura Thornhill, Ellen O'Neal, Kim Cespedes, Bob Biniak, Jana Payne, Waldo Autry, Robin Logan, Bobby Piercy, Russ Howell, Ellen Berryman, Shogo Kubo, Desiree Von Essen, Henry Hester, Robin Alaway, Paul Hackett, Michelle Matta, Bruce Logan, Steve Cathey, Edie Robertson, Mike Weed, David Hackett, Gregg Ayres, Darren Ho, and Tom Sims.
Manufacturers started to experiment with more exotic composites and metals, like fiberglass and aluminium, but the common skateboards were made of maple plywood. The skateboarders took advantage of the improved handling of their skateboards and started inventing new tricks. Skateboarders, most notably Ty Page, Bruce Logan, Bobby Piercy, Kevin Reed, and the Z-Boys started to skate the vertical walls of swimming pools that were left empty in the 1976 California drought. This started the "vert" trend in skateboarding. With increased control, vert skaters could skate faster and perform more dangerous tricks, such as slash grinds and frontside/backside airs. This caused liability concerns and increased insurance costs to skatepark owners, and the development (first by Norcon, then more successfully by Rector) of improved knee pads that had a hard sliding cap and strong strapping proved to be too-little-too-late. During this era, the "freestyle" movement in skateboarding began to splinter off and develop into a much more specialized discipline, characterized by the development of a wide assortment of flat-ground tricks.
As a result of the "vert" skating movement, skate parks had to contend with high-liability costs that led to many park closures. In response, vert skaters started making their own ramps, while freestyle skaters continued to evolve their flatland style. Thus by the beginning of the 1980s, skateboarding had once again declined in popularity.