Jun 5, 2023 - News

Study: Detroit's parks rank 60th out of 100 largest U.S. cities

2023 ParkScore for Detroit
Data: ParkScore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Detroit ranks 60th out of the 100 largest U.S. cities for its public parks, per the latest report from the pro-parks nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL).

  • Lower is better in this ranking. Detroit has fallen slightly from last year's place, 57th.

Why it matters: Parks confer a wealth of benefits — including, as TPL points out in its latest annual report, significant health boosts.

  • TPL rates cities on a variety of metrics, including the percentage of residents who live near a park, the share of city land reserved for parks, investments and more. Cities are then awarded a "ParkScore."
  • Residents of the top 25 cities by ParkScore are less likely to report poor mental health.

By the numbers: For individual "ParkScores," higher is better. Detroit scored 75 out of 100 for access, which measures how many residents are within a 10-minute walk of a park. The city scored 21 for acreage, 26 for investment, 49 for amenities and 72 for equity.

  • Low-income residents are just 1% less likely (84%) to be 10 minutes from a park than high-income ones (85%).
  • But residents in city neighborhoods with the highest concentration of people of color have access to 38% less total park space than those in areas with the highest concentration of white residents.

Details: Detroit spends $77 per capita on parks, under the $108 average among the 100 most populous U.S. cities.

  • While the city has lots of plans for improving its parks system over the next 10 years, there are many challenges to overcome, like trash and greenery maintenance and safety concerns.

The big picture: At a national level, parks spending still hasn't recovered to pre-Great Recession levels from more than a decade ago, says TPL senior director for strategy and innovation Linda Hwang.

  • One concern, Hwang added, is that many parks departments are still recovering from the pandemic and dealing with maintenance backlogs.

What's next: Detroit is spending $30 million of its federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars on recreation centers at its parks, plus:

Go deeper: This TPL map shows areas where Detroit needs more parks.


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