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What Size is the Average (or median) City Park?

Local NYC Park, Photo: Avery Wham

Local NYC Park, Photo: Avery Wham

Ever wonder, what’s the size of an average U.S. city park? Well, we have the answer.

The Center for City Park Excellence maintains a database of individual parks in the largest U.S. cities — currently at a total of 10,500 parks in about the 50 largest cities. So, a pretty big sample size to make some statistical assumptions. Based on these parks, here’s the numbers:

  • Average Size U.S. City Park: 54 acres
  • Median Size U.S. City Park: 5 acres

Some parks are incredibly large – take Phoenix’s 16,000-acre South Mountain Preserve, so the average size reflects the number and scale of these large spaces. But when looking at the median – or middle value – of the sizes, the number goes down to five acres, which means that most parks are five acres or less.

When thinking of city parks, we often spend much or most time thinking about the medium to large parks — Central Park in NYC, Lincoln and Millennium Parks in Chicago, the Lakes of Minneapolis, Balboa Park in San Diego and Forest Park in St. Louis to name only a few. But what we sometimes forget is that most parks are small – and these neighborhood parks are closest to where people live. Its small parks that perhaps should be getting the attention and prescriptions for success just as much or more than the larger parks.

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2 Responses

  1. [...] Designing Small Parks Posted on February 23, 2009 by Ben In this recent post we displayed data on the size of most U.S. city parks, and found that most are 5 acres or less [...]

  2. I may be unskilled using the internet. I have spent 3 1/2 hours trying to find information on SMALL city parks because I can’t seem to find any sites with information on how to build a SMALL walking trail. Our community center has a very small area – maybe 2-3 acres – on which we are going to clear and build a walking trail suitable for use by everyone – children up to and including the elderly. We are rural, have the collective physical ability to do this, but need some help with design, fundraising ( we do ok on this point ) and legal advice. This web site is the first to address this need and I thank you for it. We are a small county and an even smaller community. We have only one park in the county and there is absolutely no way many of our 65-up age group has access to it. Our community effort is needed and if I knew how to approach any kind of soureces for design and funding options it would be to everyone’s benefit. It is my understanding that the large majority of our nation’s population reside in rural America, not in large cities. Therefore I vote for the attention and prescriptions for success for the development of small parks in cities and towns be given higher priority.

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