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What's your city's ParkScore? Announcing the 2014 ParkScore® Index

Minneapolis residents celebrate their #1 ParkScore ranking

With summer fast approaching, we're already clocking plenty of quality time at our neighborhood parks. But do you ever wonder how your local park system compares to other cities? 

To answer this question, The Trust for Public Land created the ParkScore® Index, the number one tool to measure how well the largest U.S. cities are meeting the need for parks. 

Children enjoy the Miccosukee Greenway in Tallahassee, FLPhoto credit: Anne Nelson

This year, ParkScore expands its count to the 60 largest U.S. cities (up from 50 in 2013).  Minneapolis took top honors for the second year in a row, earning a perfect “5-park bench” rating—the only city park system to earn the coveted 5 bench score. New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Portland (unseating Sacramento) rounded out the top five.

Denver made the biggest upward move in ParkScore rating history, climbing ten places to tie for 7th. For 2014, ParkScore counted the city’s “Learning Landscapes” school playgrounds as park space, because they are open for public use in evenings and on weekends when school is not in session. These “shared use” arrangements are a relatively easy way for cities to increase park and playground access, especially in fully developed urban areas.

Sacramento was the only city to lose its top-five ranking in 2014, as strong population growth strained its park system and limited access to popular playgrounds. The California capital city earned four park benches, dropping to seventh place in 2014, compared to third last year. Fresno repeated as ParkScore’s last place finisher, earning one park bench. 

The 10 highest-ranking city park systems in the United States are:
1. Minneapolis - 5.0 park benches
2. New York - 4.5 park benches
3. Boston (tie) - 4.0 park benches
3. Portland (tie) - 4.0 park benches
3. San Francisco (tie) - 4.0 park benches
6. Washington, DC - 4.0 park benches
7. Denver (tie) - 4.0 park benches
7. Sacramento (tie) - 4.0 park benches
9. San Diego - 4.0 park benches
10. Virginia Beach (tie) - 4.0 park benches
10. Aurora, CO (tie) - 4.0 park benches - DEBUT CITY
The 10 lowest-ranking city park systems are:
51. Jacksonville - 2.0 park benches
52. Santa Ana - 1.5 park benches   DEBUT CITY
53. San Antonio (tie) - 1.5 park benches
53. Memphis (tie) - 1.5 park benches   
55. Oklahoma City - 1.5 park benches
56. Mesa, AZ - 1.5 park benches
57. Charlotte - 1.0 park benches
58. Indianapolis (tie) - 1.0 park benches
58. Louisville (tie) - 1.0 park benches
60. Fresno - 1.0 park benches

For more information about ParkScore, visit and join the discussion on Twitter @TPL_org #ParkScore.


The problem with lists like this is it doesn't give the whole picture. Take Atlanta, for example. Ranked 42 on this list, but Atlanta has 36% tree coverage. The highest of any major city. They could easily cut down the trees and make parks out of all that area, but would it make Atlanta a better place to live? I don't think so. And it certainly wouldn't make it a greener city.
Lynn - probably belongs to a country club. I live in Atlanta, Buckhead as a matter of fact, and the largest regional park in Buckhead Chastain is a largely a golf course. We need more recreation areas, passive and public green spaces too for all users. Urban Forests so not equate to parks.
Woodie Smith
As in Atlanta, our picture here in Aurora, CO is slightly different. We are proud of the 100 + parks that we have; however, we have only one full purpose recreational center. It would be great to have those public indoor facilities (gymnasiums, tennis courts, fitness centers) for those five months that we have cold weather.
Please be clear. As a Mainiac, Portland means the wonderful lovely Maine city. However, I have visited Portland, Oregon and it has some quite lovely qualities, also, although I'm not certain of the limits.

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