The 85 largest U.S. cities have more than 1.4 million acres of city parks, according to new data released today by The Trust for Public Land. The city park systems profiled in the report serve 58 million urban residents, offering 11,160 playgrounds, 9,167 ball diamonds, 1,349 swimming pools, 514 dog parks, and 400 public golf courses, among other facilities.
“In this time of economic adversity, we need great city parks to keep the hearts of our communities beating,” said Peter Harnik, Director of TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence. “These are the publicly available places city dwellers can go to enjoy the outdoors, stay in shape, and recharge their souls.”
Harnik notes that large cities spent $5.8 billion on their park systems and recreation programs in 2008, but they also collectively suffer from at least $6.4 billion in additional deferred repairs and improvements.
“If we don’t solve this maintenance problem, our children won’t have safe places to play, and their generation will be saddled with the costs,” Harnik said. “Parks are no different from other infrastructure; they need investment to keep them up.”
Park Visitation Enormous
City parks serve far more users than any other parks, from highly publicized annual festivals to normal day-to-day walk-throughs. The biggest parkland events attracted over 10 million visitors last year, including Fourth of July festivals in San Diego, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, and Nashville; arts festivals in Oklahoma City, St. Petersburg, and Durham; and concerts in San Francisco, Madison, New York City, Riverside, Calif., and Newark, N.J.
The report, 2010 City Park Facts, includes statistics on urban park acreage, spending, staffing, and facilities. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, releases the data annually through its Center for City Park Excellence. View the report here.