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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

 

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

Off-Leash Dog Parks

dogparkgraphic

Infographic from City Park Facts, 2017

Off-leash dog parks continue to grow in number in the 100 largest cities in the US, with 731 reported in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, an increase of 29 new dog parks since 2016.  Leading the pack in terms of numbers are New York City with 133, San Francisco with 32, Portland, Oregon with 33 and Las Vegas with 26.

In terms of our “per 100,000 resident” counts, however, Boise is first with 6.8 dog parks per 100,000 residents. In second place, Henderson, Nevada is tied with Portland, Oregon with 5.3 dog parks per 100,000 residents; Norfolk, Virgina is #3 with 4.9, Las Vegas and Madison, Wisconsin are #4 with 4.1, and San Francisco is #5 with 3.8 dog parks per 100,000 residents.

Unique among many dog parks are the communities of friends group that organize to help both manage and maintain the spaces as well as fostering community. One of the biggest challenges is keeping the areas, um, poo-free. Milling about with fellow neighbors and neighbors’ dogs creates a certain kind of “peer pressure” that encourages everyone to be mindful. And we’ve heard this phrase more than once from dog park organizers: “Its probably not your dog, but pick it up anyway!”

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

 

Change the Culture and the Rest Will Follow: Park Departments and Equity

If a Google search of parks and equity was your only measure of who is taking on this issue, it would seem that New York is miles ahead of other cities, as it appears over and over in the search results. But in fact, New York is one of many major cities in the US focusing on the equity issue as best as they can.

Norm Krumholz, Cleveland city planner in the 1970s, was one of the first to define “equity planning,” which he described this way: “You keep your eye on who gets helped and who gets hurt and for the people who usually get hurt – you try to make sure they don’t get hurt as bad.”

Who gets helped and who gets hurt in a city may best be seen through the lens of our public parks – a potent symbol of a city’s equity balance.  In this ongoing struggle, two park agencies, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and Portland (OR) Parks and Recreation, have hired staff specifically to address equity.  Art Hendricks is the Equity and Inclusion Director for Portland Parks & Recreation, and Michelle Kellogg is the Equity and Inclusion Project Manager for MPRB.  Continue reading

Community-Led Park Partnerships: It’s Not Just the Money

The Cully neighborhood is considered the most “parks-deficient” neighborhood in Portland. Citywide, 40 percent of residents live within a quarter-mile of a park. In Cully, only 24 percent do, with almost 23 percent of neighborhood children living in poverty.

Cully 1For over twenty years, Cully residents set their sights on the conversion of a 25-acre grassy field in the neighborhood, well-located and large enough for a range of community activities – even if it happened to be the site of a former landfill.

Tony DeFalco, Coordinator for Let Us Build Cully Park! (LUBCP!) recalls, “The community wanted it badly enough to figure out a way to build it. You had 25 acres, active methane collection and multiple partners involved in managing the site. We knew we needed to raise capital to organize a working coalition.”

Verde, a non-profit dedicated to building wealth in low-income communities, has been working with residents of Cully Park but as early as 1996, residents and the Cully Association of Neighbors negotiated with the mayor for a parks master plan. In 2010, Verde spearheaded development of LUBCP!, which was formed with the help of a $150,000 grant from the Northwest Health Foundation. Their coalition included 16 other organizations to maintain the community’s presence with municipal, environmental, and public health agencies through the redevelopment process for the site. Continue reading