New York City Playgrounds

OptOutsideStudent-designed Community Playground in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.Photo credit: Timothy Schenck

The Need for Parks

Thousands of New York City children do not have access to a park or playground within a ten minute walk of home. In fact, 73 percent of the city’s low-income neighborhoods fail to meet the city’s standard of 2.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. In these communities, many of the schools have no playground facilities at all. This scarcity of outdoor play opportunities contributes to high rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, and other health problems.

Our Solution

Since 1996, The Trust for Public Land has helped design 200 playgrounds in New York City public schools. We transform barren asphalt lots into vibrant playgrounds with safe and durable play equipment, athletic facilities, gardens, and opportunities for environmental education. Our partnership with New York City has resulted in more than 160 acres of additional playground space serving nearly 4 million New Yorkers who live within a 10-minute walk of one of our sites. That's more than half the population of New York City!

Community Participation

The cornerstone of our program is a three-month participatory design process. Involving students, parents, school staff, and neighbors helps us create playgrounds that communities care about—and that meet each neighborhood’s unique needs.

Green Infrastructure

When designed well, playgrounds are a cost-effective approach to improving air quality, cooling the city, and protecting vital waterways. We equip our playgrounds with green infrastructure elements—such as rain gardens, porous paving material, and specially selected plantings—that reduce excess stormwater and sewer overflows that pollute New York City’s rivers and harbor.

Looking forward

In the next three years, we'll continue to work with our valued public and private partners to create new playgrounds in park-needy neighborhoods across the five boroughs. We rely on vital public partnerships with New York State, NYC’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Education, the School Construction Authority, and New York City elected officials. The private funders essential to our mission include New York Road Runners, MetLife Foundation, and our Playgrounds Committee.

Explore our work

Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.