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A Look at Park Acreage

Last week, TPL released the results from its annual survey of park systems in the nation’s 77 largest cities. We thought it worthy to delve into the data a bit in a couple of posts. We’ll start off with acreage, a measure that can be looked at a couple of different ways, using the top 20 cities for the most parkland as a percent of land area.

What stands out and differentiates cities? First off, Anchorage is practically off the chart. The reason it has so much parkland is because of the gargantuan Chugach State Park of mountains and forests, that technically falls within the city’s border. Not as large, but still very sizable natural areas lie within the city boundaries of Albuquerque, El Paso, Jacksonville and Phoenix as well.

Then there’s the cities with a lot of parkland but a lot of compactly living people, too – which causes the parks per resident figure to shrink. Places such as New York City, Jersey City, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. may be densely populated, but they are very green places when it comes to the amount of parkland as percent of their land area. There are also cities such as St. Paul, Minneapolis and Oakland which have quite a bit of land area in parks while under 20 acres per 1,000 residents.

In fact, the statistics generally show that more spread out cities have less parkland as percent of their land areas. (View the full lists here.) With fewer private yard space, these cities are providing that space in their public parks.

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5 Responses

  1. I’m actually surprised Cincinnati didn’t rank higher. Maybe if it looked at county-wide data for Cincinnati it would be. The City of Cincinnati has one of the best municipal park systems in the country, and the county also has a sizable collection that is of very high quality.

  2. Thanks for mentioning Cincinnati. Keep in mind this is the top twenty out of 77. The quality of the system is also reflected in some of the other statistics. Cincinnati has more facilities in its system than most cities. Plus, quantity in land does not necessarily equate to quality in a system. (e.g. Chicago isn’t even on this list.)

  3. It’s interesting that 25%, 5 out of 20 cities, classified as “High Density” are on this list.

  4. Do people who live in NYC feel extremely removed from nature?…

    Not much more than they do in most other cities, I would imagine. New York City devotes a larger percentage of its land area to parks than do Portland, Austin, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, San Jose, and, yes, San Francisco. The only cities am…

  5. […] then there is this City Parks Blog webpage that offers a summary of the top twenty large cities as measured by percent of parkland […]

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