America has a collection of extremely interesting city parks. There are so many parks that earn some sort of recognition as the either the Oldest, Most Visited, Largest, etc.
There are also a bunch of specialty categories for city parks with great amenities – basketball hoops, pools. Even pickleball courts and disc golf courses.
If you like parks (and who doesn’t) here are facts you might find interesting. These are bits of a larger report compiled by The Trust for Public Lands in their 2017 City Parks Facts Report.
Oldest and busiest city parks
Let’s start with the parks that have been around the longest. Imagine sitting on a park bench in Boston 384 years ago?
|Oldest City Parks||City||Year Established|
|Jackson Square||New Orleans||1721|
|San Pedro Springs Park||San Antonio||1729|
|Main Plaza||San Antonio||1731|
|Bowling Green||New York City||1733|
|Columbus/Pittman Parks||San Antonio||1733|
|El Pueblo de Los Angeles||Los Angeles||1781|
Do people like parks? Spending a day eating out with friends and family on a picnic table or sitting on a park bench reading a book and people watching? If you look at these numbers, you can see people not just like their parks, they love them!
|Most Visited City Parks|
|Washington, DC||National Mall||725||33,500,000|
|New York||Central Park||843||42,000,000|
|San Diego||Mission Bay Park||4232||17,000,000|
|St. Louis||Forest Park||1293||15,000,000|
|San Francisco||Golden Gate Park||1022||14,500,000|
|Los Angeles||Griffith Park||4282||12,000,000|
|San Antonio||San Antonio Riverwalk||15||11,500,000|
|Minneapolis||Chain of Lakes Park||1557||5,476,400|
Here’s another interesting fact. A park does not need to be enormous to attract people. In San Francisco, a three-acre park attracts nearly two million people.
|Most visited city parks per acre|
|City||Park||Acres||Annual visitors per acre|
|San Francisco||Union Square||3||1,776,923|
|New York||High Line||7||1,129,272|
But if you want a large park to roam around, check out these mammoth parks, all within city boundaries. Kudos to these towns for providing such a large open space for their residents.
|Largest City Parks||City||Acres|
|McDowell Sonoran Preserve||Scottsdale||30,500|
|South Mountain Preserve||Phoenix||16,036|
|Mission Trails Regional Park||San Diego||6932|
|Jefferson Memorial Forest||Louisville||6218|
|Lake Stanley Draper||Oklahoma Coty||6190|
|Lake Houston Wilderness Park||Houston||4787|
|Shooting Range Park||Albuqeruque||4596|
Park amenities from basketball to pickleball
What kind of job does your city do in providing playgrounds for children? Check out these examples.
|Playgrounds per 10k residents|
|City||Park Playgrounds||Per 10,000 residents|
Want to give children and teens a way to expend all that energy? Install lots of basketball hoops.
|Basketball hoops per 10k residents||No. of hoops||Per 10k residents|
Nearly half of American households own a dog. Dogs are not meant to be stuck inside all day every day. They need to get out and run (or exercise on some dog park equipment. Dogs need playgrounds too). Here are several cities that provide space for our furry friends.
|Off-Leash Dog Parks per 100k Residents|
|City||Off-leash dog parks||Per 100,000 residents|
As you can see from these Mid-Western cities, you don’t need an ocean to provide a beach park.
|Beaches per 100k Residents|
|City||Beaches||Per 100,000 residents|
How does your city compare to these cities for providing baseball diamonds for adults and kids?
|Ball Diamonds per 10k Residents|
|City||Ball diamonds||Per 10k residents|
This is a growing (sorry for the pun) trend with parks today. Allocating space for city residents to grow their own food.
|Community Garden Plots per 1k Residents|
|City||Garden plots||Per 1k residents|
Hey, it’s hot outside. Here’s how some cities cope with that problem – lots of places to swim.
|Swimming Pools per 100k Residents|
|City||Swimming pools||Per 100k residents|
Teenagers love to skateboard. If you don’t provide a place for them to skateboard, they are going to skateboard anyway, and most likely damage curbs, park benches, picnic tables and other items unless you add skate deterrents. The solution – provide teens with a fun place to do their kickflips, ride bowls, meet new friends and stay out of trouble.
|Skateboard Parks per 100k Residents|
|City||Skateboard parks||Per 100k residents|
Pickleball is a thing. It’s a great way to get exercise and interact with people on a small court. You can see these cities think so.
|Pickleball Courts per 20k Residents|
|City||Pickleball courts||Per 20k residents|
There’s golf and then there’s disc golf. One sport requires a bunch of clubs, special shoes, a sleeve of expensive golf balls and hundreds of yards of high-maintenance turf. The other requires a round disc. More cities are hopping on this strategy to provide an interesting way for their residents to get outdoors and have some fun.
|Disc-Golf Courses per 100k Residents|
|City||Disc golf courses||Per 10k residents|
The Trust for Public Lands is an organization that helps cities improve their parks. They help communities raise money and make the case to add more green space. The group also provides research into the benefits of parks and assists with planning, acquisitions and protecting parkland. Other services include park design and assistance with renovating existing parks, playgrounds, trails and gardens.
One of their more interesting projects is their annual rating of 100 city parks called ParkScore. Their ratings are designated by icons shown as park benches. To determine rankings, the trust uses a methodology that covers acreage, facilities and investment, access and other factors.
Note: The Park and Facilities Catalog is a national supplier of park benches, picnic tables, bike racks and other park supplies. Employees are also avid users and supporters of national, state and local parks.