Boston Ranks above New York, Chicago in This Year’s Park Score Rankings

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently released its annual ParkScore rankings, which it says is “the most comprehensive evaluation of park access and quality in the 100 largest U.S. cities.”

Boston ranked #9 on the list, beating out New York City and Chicago, and has moved up from #13 in 2019.

According to TPL researcher Charlie McCabe, Boston’s higher ranking can be attributed to the “increased spending [in parks] by the city, as well as spending by parks non-profits, including the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.”

According to TPL’s website, Boston’s ParkScore was calculated using four categories that TPL said are “characteristics of an effective park system:” access, acreage, investment, and amenities. Boston received a score of 100 out of 100 for access, as 100 percent of Boston residents live within a 10 minute walk of a park. TPL reported that the national average is 55 percent.

Boston has 930 parks across the city, and received a score of 49 out of 100 for acreage, 92 out of 100 for investment, and 65 out of 100 for amenities like basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, and splashpads. 

The City of Boston has made recent investments to improve parks all over the city, including Peters and Ramsay Parks in the South End, the Westland Avenue Gateway in the Back Bay Fens, and the $28 million Boston Common Master Plan project, among many others.

“The Emerald Necklace Conservancy is thrilled to see Boston’s well-deserved rise in the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings. As stewards of 1,100 acres of Boston’s parkland—almost half of its total acreage—we look forward to working with our partners at the City to push our ranking even higher,” the Emerald Necklace Conservancy said in a statement.

 “What’s really been central [to the higher ranking] is increased spending on parks by the City of Boston and parks nonprofits,” said Evan Bradley, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. He said that organizations like the Conservancy account for 19 percent of the total spending on the City’s parks.

Bradley said that the Emerald Necklace Conservancy has been contributing more money to “important measures” like tree pruning over the past year. So far, 1700 out of 8000 trees in the inventory have been pruned. “Even if they’re not conventionally attractive [improvements], these investments are central to maintaining a healthy park system,” he said. “As a consequence it allows for a pretty impressive rise in the ParkScore ranking.”

Bradley said that the Emerald Necklace Conservancy would like to thank its public partners for making investments in the park system. “Aside from that, we want to be clear that the work of nonprofits like the Emerald necklace Conservancy is significant,” he said. He said that one out of every five dollars comes from a nonprofit organization.

Karen Mauney-Brodek, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy said, “We applaud the City of Boston’s investment in the parks, led by Mayor Walsh, Chief Cook and Commissioner Woods, and look forward to continued strong investment in our parks – used now more than ever in these challenging times. Non-profit organizations like the Conservancy contribute 19% of total spending on Boston’s parks. We are proud to work together with our public partners at the City of Boston, Town of Brookline and with the Commonwealth in the care and keeping on the Emerald Necklace, Boston’s largest park system, and to have our efforts recognized on a national level. This recognition is a direct result of your time, effort, thought and resources — thank you!” Boston Parks Commissioner Ryan Woods said, “Boston’s open spaces have always been a priority for our neighborhoods. I’m proud that we are a leader in access to parks, with 100 percent of residents living within 10 minutes of a park, allowing Bostonians the opportunity to easily enjoy our public open spaces. During this time, access to parks is more important than ever.”

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