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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

Prospect Park and City Park Selected as “Frontline Parks”

Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes two “Frontline Parks” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.

Parks are some of the most valuable assets a city can hold. Parks connect people to people. As such, they play a vital role in community building. Neighborhood-scale parks often serve as “third-places,” familiar locations where residents seek community with neighbors at the playground or dog park. Large parks often serve as the centers of their cities, reflecting community identity or brand through design and programming.

It is the enormity of this influence that demands investment to be sure that parks look good and function well, because a bad park can drag down a neighborhood, just as a good one can revitalize it.

The two parks featured last month have a long history of creating and sustaining community. By viewing their roles broadly as centers of community, they have stepped beyond “parks and recreation” and become vital civic places.

Prospect Park, New York.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park is a 585-acre urban oasis and boasts a stunning array of natural features, including Brooklyn’s only forest, shaded hillsides, beautiful waterfalls, and rolling meadows. The Park is home to a hand-carved carousel, the nation’s first urban Audubon Center, and a watercourse that can be explored by pedal boat or a turn-of-the-century style electric boat, the Independence. This historic urban space hosts activities year round, from ice skating and sledding in winter to team sports like football and soccer in the summer. The Park also has designated trails for horseback riding, seven playgrounds and a zoo.

Planning for the Future

Everything is operated by a partnership between the Prospect Park Alliance, the City of New York’s Parks and Recreation Department, and the community. This partnership has been instrumental in restoring the forest and lakeside, as well as offering a vast array of programming, historic preservation, and development. In order to ensure that the park will be loved long-term, Prospect Park is partnering with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the New York City Department of Education to assist the Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment prepare the next generation of stewards.

For more information about Prospect Park, please visit www.prospectpark.org.

City Park, New Orleans.

City Park

New Orleans’ City Park, at 1,300 acres, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Each year, more than ten million visitors enjoy strolling beneath its 800 year-old live oaks, wandering through the Botanical Garden, visiting the New Orleans Museum of art, riding the carousel, picnicking, or fishing on the bayou. City Park is rich in New Orleans history. The original park, since enlarged, was the site of the Allard sugar plantation. During the Great Depression, it served as a key WPA investment-job-creation site, where workers dug more than 10 miles of lagoons by hand.  Site furnishings in City Park were manufactured by DuMor, Inc.

Restoring a Park and a Community

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused billions of dollars in property damage throughout New Orleans, including City Park. 95% of the park flooded after the levees failed, resulting in thousands of felled trees and hundreds of damaged buildings. After the floodwaters retreated, it was left with $43 million in damage and had to reduce staff by 90%. These challenges have made the park’s recovery all the more remarkable; to date, $83 million in funds have been raised and a force of 35,000 volunteers have worked countless hours to restore and improve City Park.

For more information about City Park, please visit www.neworleanscitypark.com.

Frontline Parks is generously supported by DuMor, Inc. and PlayCore.

A Greenway in the Heart of New Orleans

We nearly missed mentioning a new greenway emerging in New Orleans that will run from City Park to the edge of the French Quarter. The project has a lot of potential in terms of economic development and creating a separate bike and walking trail right in the heart of the city. The city is moving forward on completing the project, as The Trust for Public Land has just obtained rights to buy the site to eventually transfer it to government ownership. From the Times-Picayune:

The 18-acre strip, now held by a mortgage company, is part of a mostly city-owned three-mile tract that follows along an unused railway bed beginning near Basin Street Station, continuing along Lafitte Street across North Carrollton Avenue and ending near Canal Boulevard.

The area includes the Sojourner Truth Community Center, a gas station at Lafitte and Broad streets where public employees fill their cars, and the old brake tag station at Lafitte and Jefferson Davis Parkway.

“All these facilities will be repurposed to serve the greenway corridor, ” said Dubravka Gilic, director of strategic planning for the city recovery office.

Daniel Samuels, an architect, is a founding member of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, a three-year-old community group that has been the most visible advocate for creation of the corridor. He said the idea of turning this area into public space is not new.

“City planning documents have recognized the potential of that corridor going all the way back to the 1976 Claiborne Avenue Design Team Study done by Cliff James and Rudy Lombard, to successive phases of the New Orleans New Century Master Plan, which was started in the 1990s, ” Samuels said.

Freeway Teardowns in New Orleans, Louisville?

We’re back with some more news on freeway teardowns, this time highlighting efforts in New Orleans and Louisville, KY.

A plan to tear down a segment of I-10 in New Orleans would result in this boulevard returning.

This last week an article appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about that city considering tearing down a segment of the elavated freeway I-10. The idea is to replace the segment with what was originally on the same spot – a center median boulevard filled with trees known as Claiborne Avenue. The teardown would partly be done to bring back the surrounding neighborhood around that the highway construction helped deteriorate.

Another project in Louisville being proposed by the a local advocacy group would replace a portion of I-64 with a boulevard and riverfront parks (along the Ohio River) in and around the city’s central core. Under the plan being proposed by the group 8664, the current I-64 would essentially be rerouted through the construction of a new bridge up stream that would allow traffic passing through downtown to divert on other existing freeways further out. The groups prepared a video below — and their website has a background presentation.

Renewal in City Park, New Orleans

Many people may not know about the effort to rebuild City Park in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the park — trees and buildings downed, flooding with limited resources left for renewal. Through a privately financed, $2 million effort a facelift is now getting under way.  A story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune describes the effort that:

…will transform a little-used, 50-acre tract near the New Orleans Museum of Art into a premier gathering place. Overseen by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, the project will add a 1-mile pedestrian and bicycle path around the lagoon known as Big Lake and reshape the surrounding topography, adding elaborate landscaping. Designers say marquee features will be a gently sloping, 16-acre meadow at the lagoon’s southeast corner that will provide a pastoral setting for waterfront music performances, and a pair of “entry gardens” along the Wisner Boulevard end of the site.

“Once we’re finished, we think Big Lake will be an oasis where people can congregate and reconnect with our city’s natural environment,” said Larry Schmidt, a New Orleans native who heads the local office of the Trust for Public Land, a conservation group based in San Francisco. “We believe this area can become a prime public gathering spot for our community.”

At 1,300 acres and a pre-Katrina annual level of 11,000,000 yearly visitors, City Park is one of the most signficant parks in the country. Its also one of our country’s oldest, going back to 1854, and the park’s website has a more detailed history.