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More National Parks in Cities Needed?

Golden Gate National Recreationa Area, San Francisco; cc: Flickr user thamiter

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco; cc: Flickr user thamiter

Some U.S. cities have National Park Service properties from parks to historic sites and monuments to wildlife refuges. As the latest Ken Burns documentary on the national parks mentioned, it was NPS director who expanded the agency’s thinking and make it more relevant to an urban society during his tenure in the 1960s.

But which cities actually have these places. According to TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence, of the 77 largest cities in the country, 13 have one or more park service unit. They are:

Atlanta: MLK Historic Site
Baltimore: Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
Boston: National Historical Park
Buffalo: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
Cincinnati: William Howard Taft National Historic Site
El Paso: Chamizal National Memorial
Greensboro, N.C.: Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
Jacksonville Florida: Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve
New York City, Governors Island National Monument, National Parks of New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty National Monument & Ellis Island, Gateway National Recreation Area
Philadelphia: Independence National Historical Park
San Diego: Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex
San Francisco: San Francisco Golden Gate National Recreation Area, The Presidio Trust
St. Louis: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Washington, DC: National Park Service properties (the National Park Service owns most of the parkland in the District from the National Mall to Rock Creek Park to the Anacostia River parks)

The country’s oldest and larger cities are likely to have National Parks and most of them are found along the coasts. Few are found within the nation’s mid-section, notably inside the big cities of Chicago and Detroit and the others of the Great Lakes mega-city region (where a large chunk of Americans live).

Interestingly, there is one state without a National Park Service unit: Delaware, and legislation has just been introduced to remedy that situation. TPL President Will Rogers wrote in the HuffPost recently that there is work to be done in adding parks in urban areas. Looking at the numbers, it turns out, there are plenty of places to do this.

7 Responses

  1. […] City Parks Blog posted this article on urban National Parks. “According to TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence, of the 77 […]

  2. So, this is a new way to get a piece of the national park pie. Aren’t cities supposed to do their own parks??

    And what happens to our traditional national parks – they already suffer from a lack of budget support.

  3. Also, Seattle has the Klondike Gold Rush National Park Seattle Unit right next to downtown. I think it’s the smallest national park in the country, consisting of only a museum

  4. Thanks for mentioning Klondike – its so small its not in the TPL data.

    And good point, Peder. Maintenance is a definite concern that would need to be addressed, both of any new parks but also as you indicate, making sure our existing parks are adequately funded. This is not a call for NPS to take over city responsibilities, but instead a message that there may be opportunities of national significance in cities, where most people in the country live.

  5. There are actually 16 cities with a National Park or National Wildlife Refuge. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Jose and are missing.

  6. Also missing are two more cities: Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans; and Back Bay National Wilidlife Refuge and Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach.

  7. National Wildlife Refuges are not apart of the National Park System. Those fall under the control of the U.S. FIsh & Wildlife Service.

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