• Who We Are

    City Parks Blog is a joint effort of the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land and the City Parks Alliance to chronicle the news and issues of the urban park movement. Read more about us.
  • Urban Park Issues

  • Enter your email address to receive notifications of new City Parks Blog posts by email.

  • Archives

  • Urban Green Cover Ad

City Park Facts: Largest federal parks inside the largest cities

Continuing our largest parks series, here’s the top ten largest federal parks located inside our 100 largest US cities

  1. Chugach National Forest, Anchorage: 245,653 acres
  2. Lake George Natural Landmark, Anchorage: 192,192
  3. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Chesapeake: 50,469
  4. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Jacksonville: 31,486
  5. Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, New Orleans: 25,361
  6. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach: 9,180
  7. Gateway National Recreation Area, New York: 7,683
  8. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, San Jose: 6,800
  9. Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque: 5,164
  10. Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles: 3,696

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 their 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

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.

mcdowell-sonoran-photo

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

 

13,544 Playgrounds

768_x_auto-ca_larch_10262016_10

Larch Park, Los Angeles

What feature of a park does everyone expect? A playground of course!  Playgrounds have grown in both number and sophistication over the years that the Trust for Public Land has been working on building and re-working them.  While the focus on safety as well as accessibility (as governed by local and state guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act (or the ADA as we often refer to it), there’s increasingly a fun element to them, as shown by these pictures.

In terms of our City Park Facts measurement of “per 10,000 residents,” Madison is #1 with 7.1 playgrounds per 10,000 residents (173 playgrounds), Cincinnati is #2 with 5.0 (152 playgrounds), Detroit #3 with 4.7 (309 playgrounds), Omaha #4 for 4.4 (193) and Norfolk #5 with 4.2 (103 playgrounds)

720xauto-nj_sussexaveopening_112514_40

Schoolyard Playground, New York City

In terms of overall numbers, New York City is first with 1,669 playgrounds, Chicago second with 660, Houston third with 452, Los Angeles fourth with 433 and Detroit fifth with 309.

Overall, there are 13,544 playgrounds in the 100 largest US cities. Since 2010, the number of playgrounds has increased over 17%, from 11,160, with 2,394 additional playgrounds added.

Some recent Trust for Public Land playground projects include New York City, Philadelphia, East Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming April 20 to tpl.org. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

playgrounds

Infographic from City Park Facts

Community Gardens

Comm-graden-plots

Infographic from City Park Facts, 2017

Community Gardens continue to grow in the parks of the 100 largest US cities. In 2017, there are a total of 1,138 community garden sites with 23,883 individual garden plots. This is an increase of 115 garden sites, adding 1,839 plots in the past year.

We measure community gardens in two ways for City Park Facts. Primarily, we focus on community garden plots – which are the specific garden plots or spaces that individuals or families get access to use for a season. A varied number of plots make up one community garden site, depending on the site, the parks agency and a host of other factors.

Further, it’s important to note that there are many more community gardens in other public and semi-public lands, including sites that might be targeted to build schools, housing or other public facilities. These are not counted in our totals, we we focus specifically on public parkland.

However, there are a number of organizations in US cities focused on providing information, tools and resources to locate and create public spaces, especially community gardens in non-park spaces.  A great example of the tools that these organizing efforts produce is in New York City with LivingLotsNYC.org, which one of several public is mapping tools developed by the Brooklyn based non-profit group, 596 Acres.

The 100 largest US cities with the most community garden sites are New York City with 346, Chicago #2 with 88, Portland #3 with 52, Washington DC with 49, and Seattle #5 with 48.

In terms of community garden plot totals, New York City is #1 with 3,420, Portland with 2,246, Washington DC with 2,300, and Los Angeles with 1,741 and San Francisco with 1,384.  

In terms of plots per 1,000 residents, Portland leads with 3.6, Washington, DC second with 3.5, Madison third with 3.0, and Milwaukee fourth with 1.8 and Seattle fifth with 1.7 plots per 1,000 residents.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming April 20th 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/