City Parks Report Shows Importance of Nearby Parks

November 21, 2012
San Francisco

Large amounts of parkland in cities is important, but equally vital is to have parks which are nearby and easily accessible to residents, according to the latest report on city parks released Wednesday by The Trust for Public Land, the nation's leader in creating urban parks across the country.

In seven of the nation's largest cities, nine out of 10 residents live within a one-half mile walk to a park, according to the report. The seven are New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

The annual City Parks Facts report is the nation's most complete compilation of data about urban parks. It is collected annually by The Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence.

"It is not enough for a city to have a lot of park land if it isn't easy to reach," said Peter Harnik, CCPE Director. "These seven cities are among the best because they have parks which almost everyone can access. We have found that the best-used parks in cities are those which are accessible by the greatest number of people."

While the top seven cities have parks that are easily accessible to more than 90% of their residents, a number of other cities have thousands of acres of parks but the location of the parks is not distributed in a way which makes it easy for all residents to walk to them. Some of those are Charlotte, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; and Indianapolis.

In addition, the report tracks comparative statistics, such as spending by cities on parks, how well city residents are served by playgrounds, and relative staffing levels, along with fun facts, such as the cities with the most skate parks, dog runs, and basketball hoops per capita. Finally, for those who want to win trivia contests, the report includes lists of the country's largest, oldest, and most visited urban parks.

"With electronic communications making work and workers increasingly mobile, choosing where to live may be based on quality of life factors, such as parks," said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land. "Parks and playgrounds and recreation facilities are linchpins of quality of life in most cities, and The Trust for Public Land is helping cities across the country create parks, while also being a go-to resource for public officials and park advocates."

Earlier this year, The Trust for Public Land launched its ParkScore project, which ranks the park systems of the nation's 40 largest cities. Using precise, computerized mapping technology, The Trust for Public Land analyzed access to city park systems, and even factored in barriers such as highways, railroad tracks, and unbridged rivers.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.