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Sneak Peak: Infographics

We’re adding a few new features to the 2017 edition of City Park Facts this year.  One is a two-page spread of infographics highlighting some of the “big numbers” about parks and their amenities in the 100 largest US cities.  Here’s one with the total number of parks.

noofparks-infographic

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

 

 

Disc Golf: Steady Growth

Have you played disc golf? It shares a lot in common with [regular] golf. A great video overview is here. A wikipedia overview of Disc Golf is here. But, the best way to learn is to head out with a group of golfers and try your hand (and wrist) at it.

According to our latest surveys of the 100 largest US cities, there are 186 disc golf courses in parks, with 51 new courses built and opened since we started collecting data on disc golf in 2013.

Which city is the capital of Disc Golf? In terms of sheer numbers, Charlotte boasts 14 courses, Houston in second place with six courses and Austin and Kansas City tied for third place with five courses each.

But in terms of courses per 100,000 residents, Tulsa (7 courses) leads the way with 1.7 courses per 100,000 residents, with Durham (4 courses) at 1.6 and Charlotte (14 courses) at 1.3, tied with Lexington, KY (4 courses), also at 1.3.  Overall, there are 186 disc golf courses in the 100 largest US cities, rising from 138 in 2013 when we began surveying cities about them.

And for those who want to know more about the professional side of things, visit the Professional Disc Golf association website. They report that there are over 5,000 disc golf courses in the United States, with “most open to the public.”

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org (weblink: https://www.tpl.org/keywords/center-city-park-excellence)  If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

Splashpads Arriving in Waves

splashpad

Butler Park, Austin, TX (photo: Charlie McCabe)

Splashpads (also called spray grounds) continue to come in, well, waves to parks in the 100 largest US cities.Over 1,333 are now in operation, nearly a 47 percent increase over our 2016 count of 709, which was the first year we added them to our parks surveys.

There are a host of reasons where they are growing in popularity. Key is lower operation and maintenance costs, with lifeguards not required to open and close them like public swimming pools. Second, water usage is generally lower than in swimming pools, as most splash pads operate when a visitor pushes a button to start the flow of water for a limited period of time. Third, in many cases, splash pads are replacing older wading pools with a facility that can serve more visitors at one time. And finally, they can have a longer season in cities across the US, as one of the bigger challenges for parks departments is lifeguard staffing outside the traditional summer break, as most guards are full-time students in high school or college.

New York City leads the 2017 count in terms of sheer numbers: 589, Chicago second with 217, and Louisville third with 32.  In terms of splash pads per 100,000 residents, Boston is number one with 9.7, Chicago second with 7.8 and Tulsa third with 7.5 per 100,000 residents.

[In future posts, we’ll cover the latest counts of public beaches and swimming pools.]

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

The continued rise of skate parks

dlxskateshop

The Dish at Hilltop Park in San Francisco

Skate parks remain one of the fastest growing park facilities in the 100 largest US cities. Over 141 skate parks have been constructed since we started surveying city parks departments about them in 2010. There are 365 now, with 30 opening in the past year. That’s an 8 percent increase over 2016.

In terms of total numbers, Los Angeles has the most with 35, with New York City in second place with 25 and San Antonio rounding out third with 15. In terms of our standardized “per 100,000 resident” counts that we use in City Park Facts, however, Chula Vista, California is #1 with 3 skate parks per 100,000 residents, Sacramento close behind with 2.7 and Henderson, Nevada with 2.5.

Skate parks are expensive to build, but are built to last with highly specialized construction requirements. The Tony Hawk Foundation helps many cities fund skate park design and construction. They report that over 572 skateparks have received funding and that those parks see over 5.5 million visits annually.[1] The Trust for Public Land, working with San Francisco Recreation and Parks, recently completed a revitalization of Hilltop Park, which includes the famous Dish skate park, in San Francisco.

More importantly, skate parks serve a niche of pre-teen and teens that are often under served by city parks and recreation departments. Further, they are often “self-governing” with friends groups organizing around times of day for skaters of different abilities to ride and keeping the parks organized and safe.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org.  You can reach the City for City Park Excellence with questions or comments at ccpe@tpl.org

More skate park projects from The Trust for Public Land:

Watts Serenity Park (2015) – A packed house for park’s debut in Watts

Hilltop Park (2015) – New life for a skateboarding landmark

[1] – Tony Hawk Foundation website: http://tonyhawkfoundation.org/

Please Be Seated

By Charlie McCabe

parccentre

Parc Centre chairs and tables, The Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston

Last year, the Center for City Park Excellence wrote a great article titled “If It Doesn’t Have a Bench, Is It Still a Park?” that appeared in Parks and Recreation Magazine (you can download it here.

The good news is that benches aren’t the only seating possibility in our parks and public spaces.

My personal experience in working in parks in Austin, TX, Boston, MA, and  New York City has certainly given me the opportunity to consider (and fix, sand, re-paint, and clean) many a bench. While park benches are iconic, more and more parks and public spaces in cities and towns across the United States are using moveable chairs. Over the past decade, I’ve used three different types of these chairs, and thought it would be helpful to weigh in on the pros and cons of each and why you should consider moveable chairs for your park or public space.

We’ll always have Paris The moveable seating movement (if you will) came from several parks in Paris, most notably Luxembourg Gardens. The bistro chair, often paired with small round tables and manufactured by Fermob , is portable, foldable, and easy to move and manage. With the re-birth of Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, this became the chair of choice and about 10 years ago, cost about $35 each, making them reasonably affordable and relatively easy to replace.  [Currently, the metal bistro chair is just over $108 retail.] Fermob has a wide variety of chairs and tables; another style we see more and more in city parks and in public spaces is the Luxembourg (as in Garden) side chair, which currently retails for about $350.

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Fermob Bistro Chairs (and Tables), The Boston Common.

Midwestern Roots

A more recent competitor is the Parc Centre Chair by Landscape Forms. More durable than the Fermob Bistro chair, as well as easy to slide across park spaces and stackable, they are also very durable and cost about $245 each, retail.There’s also a matching table in varying sizes which cost up to $690 retail. The design is such that it’s hard to stack and carry more than two, which makes them much more likely to stay put.

I’ve seen the Parc Center chairs in many colors in parks and plazas across the US in the past few years; I would bet they are the most popular currently. You can’t go wrong–if you can afford them.

Inexpensive yet trendy

The Plastic Resin Adirondack Chair rounds out our options. Weighing in at just a few pounds, they cost $20 and are able to seat people up to 250 pounds. You can buy five for the price of one Fermob Bistro chair or 12 for the price of one Parc Centre chair. No, they won’t last as long and yes, they can walk away. But, there are so many of them out there in our cities and towns that they probably won’t, and, they are very awkward to carry, which make it harder for them to be “liberated.”

adrion-chairs

Relaxing in Adirondack Chairs, Dewey Square Park, Boston

These are my “go-to” option currently, as they allow you to experiment with seating in parks and plazas where there currently isn’t any. And, they are stackable and lockable to pass the “300 pound drunk sailor rule”–a common saying by the Director of Operations for a park where I used to work.

One caveat: some people think they’re tacky. Maybe, but with careful color choice and good care they will provide long lasting and attractive seating anywhere, for even the lowest budget.

Lock things up

After spending plenty of money on park seating, the last thing that you want to do is lose what you have.  Generally, the ability to stack the seating and use loop cabling and a strong padlock will do the trick.  For any of the chairs, just stack them so the pile is too heavy to pick up. Then, slip a cable around the seat and through the back opening and secure it with a padlock.

For the Parc Centre Chairs and Tables, put four chairs around the table and use a cable that pulls one leg of each chair tight under the table and secure it with a padlock.  The Rose Kennedy Greenway uses this approach and it works great, since the combined weight of the table and four chairs is at least several hundred pounds.

Do you have a favorite chair for parks and public spaces? Or more questions?  Write us at ccpe@tpl.org