Cities Ask: What’s Our ParkScore® ?
City life is undergoing a renaissance. With more and more Americans realizing the social, health, and environmental benefits of living in proximity to work, friends and the services they use every day, urban populations are booming. But as more people trade the green, leafy suburbs for the concrete and convenience of city life, the demand for urban green space is growing. For cities to achieve true quality of life, they need to provide residents with outdoor places to play, roam, and grow gardens.
That’s why The Trust for Public Land created ParkScore, the most comprehensive method ever developed to measure city park systems. We think everyone, in every city, should live within a 10-minute walk of a park or green space. To make that goal a reality, we designed ParkScore, a tool to help identify the communities in most need of park development.
It’s About Acreage, Access, and Investment
Based on a decade of work by our own Center for City Park Excellence and using advanced GIS mapping and analysis, ParkScore evaluates the three main aspects of park systems—acreage, access, and investment. Combined, these factors provide a fair and comprehensive basis for comparison within cities, between cities, and over time.
So, what did ParkScore find? In a nutshell, every community has room for improvement.
Lessons for the Best and Worst
Though no city got a perfect ParkScore, San Francisco’s park system was rated the best out of the top 40 largest cities in the nation. The city scored points for park access and investment, thanks in large part to continued public support of its famous network of parks. But San Francisco isn’t perfect—it scored low on playgrounds and typical park size, giving it a final score of 74 out of 100. For the city to keep its top spot, San Francisco residents and civic leaders will need to maintain their commitment to park investment over time.
Sacramento came in at number two, while New York and Boston tied for third and Washington, D.C. rounded out the top five.
At the other end of the spectrum, Fresno’s park system was rated the lowest out of America’s 40 largest cities, shining a light on the need for improvement. An interactive GIS map will help Fresno city planners determine which parts of the city are in most desperate need of parks. If they respond to that need, they’ll boost the city’s ParkScore.
Charlotte, NC, Louisville, KY, Indianapolis, IN, and Mesa, AZ, were also called out at the bottom of the list, due to less access, acreage, and investment than other cities.
Wherever a city’s ParkScore lies on the scale from 1 to 100, city planners, officials, and residents will find plenty to learn on ParkScore.com.
“No city got a perfect ParkScore,” says Peter Harnik. “There is room to improve across the board and now cities have a powerful research-based tool to help facilitate the conversation.”
Visit the ParkScore website for detailed rankings, maps, and information.