Facts About City Parks -The Oldest, Largest, Most Visited, Most Pools, Pickleball Courts, Disc Golf Courses Or Off-Leash Dog Parks

facts about city parks

Facts about city parks

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
Boston Common Boston 1634
Military Park Newark 1667
Washington Park Newark 1669
Frankin/Washington Squares Philadelphia 1682
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
City Park Acres Annual Visitations
Washington, DC National Mall 725 33,500,000
New York Central Park 843 42,000,000
Chicago Lincoln Park 1216 20,000,000
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
Dallas Fair Park 263 5,515,000
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
Detoit Campus Martius 3 800,000
Boston Norman Leventhal 2 235,294
San Antonio Riverwalk 15 200,000


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
Sonoran Preserve Phoenix 9487
Cullen Park Houston 9270
Mission Trails Regional Park San Diego 6932
Jefferson Memorial Forest Louisville 6218
Lake Stanley Draper Oklahoma Coty 6190
Forest Park Portland 5172
Lake Houston Wilderness Park Houston 4787
Shooting Range Park Albuqeruque 4596

park benches

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
Madison 173 7.1
Cincinnati 152 5
Detroit 309 4.7
Omaha 193 4.4
Norfolk 103 4.2


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
Madison 239 9.8
Norfolk 203 8.3
St. Paul 220 7.4
Richmond 146 6.6
Buffalo 165 6.3


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
Boise 15 6.8
Henderson 15 5.3
Portland 33 5.3
Norfolk 12 4.9
Las Vegas 26 4.1
Madison 10 4.1
San Francisco 32 3.8


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
Madison 12 4.9
Virginia Beach 14 3.1
Minneapolis 12 2.9
Corpus Christi 7 2.1
St. Petersburg 5 2
San Diego 26 1.9


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
St. Paul 159 5.4
Minneapolis 195 4.8
Pittsburgh 128 4.1
Cincinnati 119 3.9
St. Louis 120 3.8


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
Portland 2246 3.6
Washington DC 2300 3.5
Madison 739 3
Milwaukee 1078 1.8
Seattle 1113 1.7
San Francisco 1384 1.6


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
Cleveland 42 10.9
Cincinnati 24 7.9
Pittsburgh 19 6.1
Washington DC 35 5.3
Atlanta 23 5.1
Omaha 22 5
Philadelphia 74 4.7


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
Chula Vista 8 3
Sacramento 13 2.7
Henderson 7 2.5
Las Vegas 11 1.8
Long Beach 8 1.7


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
St. Paul 30 2
Madison 21 1.7
Omaha 31 1.4
Chesapeake 16 1.3
Albuquerque 37 1.3


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
Tulsa 7 1.7
Durham 4 1.6
Charlotte 14 1.3
Lexington 4 1.3
Fort Wayne 3 1.1


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.

About Robert Caston

Robert Caston
Robert Caston oversees Content Marketing for The Park Catalog. Robert earned a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for several newspapers. He is a connoisseur of fresh air and loves photographing nature whether he’s hanging out in a national park or a park down the street. With a passion for the outdoors, he is a strong advocate of green spaces and getting people out of the house. His favorite parks are the spectacular Grand Teton National Park in northwest Wyoming and the incredible Twin Rivers Park in Stuart, Fla.

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