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How big or small are parks in US cities?


For our work on the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore, we know the median size of a park in the 100 largest US cities is 3.8 acres.  We recently got a request to calculate how parks break down in size amongst the 100 largest cities.  We looked at the data a number of different ways, and how it differs based on city population as well as density.  Here’s what we found.

Overall for the 100 largest US cities (includes all public parkland, regardless of ownership by city, county, state and federal governments)

  • .25 (or less) acre: 12.3%
  • .25 to 1 acre: 16.3%
  • 1 to 2 acres: 11.1%
  • 2 to 5 acres: 17.6%
  • 5 to 7 acres: 6.9%
  • 7 to 10 acres: 7.6%
  • 10 to 15 acres: 6.9%
  • greater than 15 acres: 28.2%

We wondered if there was a difference in these breakdowns for cities with larger populations versus small populations, so we did some additional analysis.

For cities with populations in the 600,000 to 800,000 range (Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Las Vegas, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Washington, DC.), we found the following:

  • .25 (or less) acre: 16.6%
  • .25 to 1 acre: 19.5%
  • 1 to 2 acres: 10.7%
  • 2 to 5 acres: 16.6%
  • 5 to 7 acres: 6.1%
  • 7 to 10 acres: 6.9%
  • 10 to 15 acres: 5.3%
  • greater than 15 acres: 18.2%

For cities with populations under 250,000 (Arlington (VA), Baton Rouge, Boise, Chesapeake, Fremont, Garland, Glendale, Hialeah, Irving, Norfolk, North Las Vegas, Reno, Richmond, Scottsdale, Winston-Salem), we found the following:

  • .25 (or less) acre: 6%
  • .25 to 1 acre: 14.6%
  • 1 to 2 acres: 10.7%
  • 2 to 5 acres: 20.1%
  • 5 to 7 acres: 8.6%
  • 7 to 10 acres: 9.2%
  • 10 to 15 acres: 9.1%
  • greater than 15 acres: 21.9%

Finally, we also looked at cities with lower population densities* (10 to 15 persons per acre) and found the following:

  • .25 (or less) acre: 17.2%
  • .25 to 1 acre: 19.5%
  • 1 to 2 acres: 10.9%
  • 2 to 5 acres: 15.5%
  • 5 to 7 acres: 5.5%
  • 7 to 10 acres: 6.9%
  • 10 to 15 acres: 5.6%
  • greater than 15 acres: 19%

(*-includes Anahiem, Arlington (VA), Baltimore, Buffalo, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oakland, Seattle.)

Stay tuned for further analysis as we dig into our ParkServe index. (7700 cities, towns and communities rated for 10 minute walk to a park access.)  Below is a screen shot showing results from suburban Boston.


City park facts: Parks per 10,000 residents by city

If you are familiar with the work for the Trust for Public Land and the Center for City Park Excellence, you know that we focus a lot on the percentage of a city’s population that is within a 10-minute walk to a park.  We highlight this in Parkscore, the 2017 results will be announced on May 24th.

Prior to the introduction of Parkscore five years ago, we focused instead on parks per 1,000 residents by city or parks acreage per 10,000 residents by city, as well as variations with daytime occupants. We’ll share these in the next few posts, but you can find all of the information by downloading the 2017 edition of City Park Facts.

Here are the top 25 cities with the most parks per 10,000 residents by city:

  1. Madison: 282 parks or 11.6 parks per 10,000 residents.
  2. Arlington, VA: 210 parks or 9.2 parks per 10,000 residents.
  3. Cincinnati: 272 parks or 8.9 parks per 10,000 residents.
  4. Atlanta: 405 parks or 8.9 parks per 10,000 residents.
  5. St. Petersburg: 218 parks or 8.6 parks per 10,000 residents.
  6. Las Vegas: 512 parks or 8.2 parks per 10,000 residents.
  7. Buffalo: 208 parks or 8.0 parks per 10,000 residents.
  8. St. Paul: 223 parks or 7.5 parks per 10,000 residents.
  9. Anchorage: 228 parks or 7.5 parks per 10,000 residents.
  10. Pittsburgh: 214 parks or 6.9 parks per 10,000 residents.
  11. Norfolk: 168 parks or 6.8 parks per 10,000 residents.
  12. Seattle: 457 parks or 6.8 parks per 10,000 residents.
  13. Lincoln: 188 parks or 6.8 parks per 10,000 residents.
  14. Baltimore: 421 parks or 6.8 parks per 10,000 residents.
  15. Virgina Beach: 298 parks or 6.6 parks per 10,000 residents.
  16. Boston: 419 parks or 6.5 parks per 10,000 residents.
  17. Greensboro: 178 parks or 6.3 parks per 10,000 residents.
  18. Corpus Christi: 203 parks or 6.2 parks per 10,000 residents.
  19. Washington, DC: 409 parks or 6.2 parks per 10,000 residents.
  20. New Orleans: 239 parks or 6.2 parks per 10,000 residents.
  21. Boise: 133 parks or 6.0 parks per 10,000 residents.
  22. Denver: 384 parks or 5.7 parks per 10,000 residents.
  23. Omaha: 248 parks or 5.6 parks per 10,000 residents.
  24. Portland, OR: 334 parks or 5.4 parks per 10,000 residents.
  25. Tampa: 192 parks or 5.3 parks per 10,000 residents.

Questions, comments? email us at ccpe@tpl.org

How many acres of parks are there in the 100 largest US cities?

We’re glad you asked!  There are over two2 million acres of parkland in the 100 largest cities, which collectively contain twenty percent of the population of the United States.


Further, these one hundred cities combined have a total of 11,455,651 acres, which means that the 2,055,324 acres of parks are 5.57 percent of the total acreage of those one hundred cities.

In the new 2017 City Park Facts report, we look at parkland in a number of ways, including:

  • Parkland by city and agency (pp. 4-10)
  • Parkland as a percentage of adjusted city area (p. 11)
  • Parkland per 1,000 residents by city (p. 12)
  • Parkland per 1,000 daytime occupants by city (p. 13)
  • Parks per 10,000 residents by city (p 14)

You can download this report for free on the Trust for Public Land website.

The Center for City Park Excellence is part of The Trust for Public Land, which creates parks and protects land for people. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

City Park Facts: The largest city parks

Many people often think of one of the most famous city parks, Central Park in New York City, as one the biggest. Nope.  Not even in the top 20 largest city parks.

The biggest city park in the 100 largest cities in the US is McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona, weighing in at 30,500 acres.


Photo by the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy

Below is a list of the top 18 city parks, along with links to their websites for additional information. (Note: if a park extends beyond the boundary of the city, only the acreage within the city is noted here.)

  1. McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale: 30,500 acres. [friends group: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy]
  2. South Mountain Preserve, Phoenix: 16,306 acres.
  3. Sonoran Preserve, Phoenix: 9,487 acres.
  4. Cullen Park, Houston: 9,270 acres.
  5. Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego: 6,932 acres.
  6. Jefferson Memorial Forest, Louisville: 6,218 acres.
  7. Lake Stanley Draper, Oklahoma City: 6,190 acres.
  8. Forest Park, Portland, Or: 5,172 acres. [friends group: Forest Park Forever]
  9. Lake Houston Wilderness Park, Houston: 4,787 acres.
  10. Shooting Range Park, Albuquerque: 4,596 acres.
  11. Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis: 4,284 acres. [friends group: Eagle Creek Park Foundation]
  12. Griffith Park, Los Angeles: 4,282 acres.
  13. Loblolly Mitigation Preserve, Jacksonville: 4,201 acres.
  14. Mission Bay Park, San Diego: 4,108 acres.
  15. Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage: 3,924 acres. [friends group: Anchorage Park Foundation]
  16. Piestewa Park, Phoenix: 3,766 acres.
  17. Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, Fort Worth: 3,630 acres.
  18. Rio Grande Valley State Park, Albuquerque: 3,186 acres.

City Parks Facts 2017 will be released on April 19, 2017 at www.tpl.org.

City Park Facts is a collaboration between the many city, county, state and nonprofit parks agencies and conservancies that work with us to submit their data and we appreciate your continued help and involvment. The staff of the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land works to present this information in a thorough yet easy-to-use format, and your feedback is important for future editions. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

Follow our new twitter feed @CityParkFacts


100 Largest US Cities – What’s the deal?

Maybe its time to talk a bit about the 100 largest US cities are and what they represent in terms of acreage, population and where they are located.

To start, the full list is located on Parkscore or you can download the latest City Park Facts PDF. They are chosen by looking at the latest census data and the 2017 list will be the same as the 2016 list.

Acreage: in terms of our reporting for both City Park Facts and Parkscore, the acreage for all 100 largest cities is 11.45 million acres. The total acreage of the United States is 2.3 billion acres, with 1.9 Billion acres in the 48 contiguous states.

The population of the 100 largest US cities is 63.1 Million, which is 19.8 percent of the total population of the United States, which is 318.9 Million.

Overall, the 100 largest cities have 2,055,324 (over 2 million) acres of parkland, which is 17.94% of the total cities acreage. Here’s another of our forthcoming infographics showing the list of cities and the acreage.


Many of our 100 largest cities are clustered in groups. The biggest groups are in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, as shown by the map.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to the Trust for Public Land website. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org. The City Parks Blog is a joint project of the City Parks Alliance and the Trust for Public Land.