Boston is one of the best cities for public parks
Boston ranked 10th among the 100 largest U.S. cities for its public parks, per the latest report from the Trust for Public Land, a pro-parks nonprofit.
Why it matters: Parks bring a wealth of benefits — including, as TPL points out in its latest annual report, significant health boosts. They offer space for physical activity and social gatherings, improve visitors’ moods and provide a reprieve from noise and air pollution.
- Residents of the top 25 cities by ParkScore are less likely to report poor mental health or low physical activity, per the report.
How it works: The group rates cities on the percentage of residents who live near a park, the share of city land reserved for parks, parks investment and other metrics. Cities are then awarded a "ParkScore."
By the numbers: Boston scored a perfect 100 for access, 49 for acreage, 58 for amenities, 78 for equity and 79 for investment.
- A perfect access score means 100% of Boston residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, whether it’s the Common, Franklin Park or part of the Emerald Necklace.
- Boston’s access score stands well above the median average of 55% for all urban U.S. cities and towns.
Yes, but: Bostonians know park access doesn't necessarily mean there's an abundance of "destination" parks, which is why Boston scored lower for equity and acreage.
- Residents in neighborhoods of color have 12% less park space per person than those in predominantly white neighborhoods, the report says.
- Low-income neighborhoods have 19% less park space per person than high-income neighborhoods.
The big picture: Access remains a troublesome issue across the country, Linda Hwang, TPL senior director for strategy and innovation, tells Axios. Residents of predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods have access to 43% less park space per person than residents of predominantly white neighborhoods.
Zoom in: Washington, D.C., took top honors in TPL's latest ranking largely thanks to its parks investment and access scores.
- The District is spending $259 per capita on parks — more than double the $108 average among the 100 most populous cities. Boston is spending roughly $176 per capita on parks.
What they’re saying: Cities increasingly view their parks and parks departments through a public health lens, says Howard Frumkin, TPL senior vice president and director of the Land and People Lab.
- "Simply defining parks as part of the public health infrastructure of a community, and then steering some health dollars towards the parks because they're healthy, is a really interesting innovation," Frumkin tells Axios.
- "And it's not rare — it's getting more and more common."
Reality check: Not every city park is a multi-acre Olmstedian masterpiece — yet even diminutive "pocket parks" and community garden lots confer physical, mental and social benefits.
- "If there's a pocket park with no sports facilities at all, but I walked 12 minutes to get there and I walk 12 minutes home, I've got my 24 minutes of moderate activity for that day," Frumkin says.
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