That's the primary reason Chicago earned a positive 3.5 rating on a 5-point scale from the Trust for Public Land's ParkScore. This analysis was released for the first time Wednesday, ranking park systems in the nation's 40 largest cities.
"So many Chicagoans consider their neighborhood parks to be their own backyard," said The Trust's Chicago Office Director Beth White. "That's why this kind of rating system can be a valuable tool as the City looks for ways to improve the quality of life in communities throughout Chicago."
ParkScore points to two key areas where Chicago's parks can be improved, citing a median park size of two acres and a relatively low 2.3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents, though the playground count does not include all school playgrounds.
In 2014, Chicago will open the new Bloomingdale Park and Trail, a 2.7 mile-long elevated park space being developed in partnership with the city and the Trust for Public Land. It will snake through city neighborhoods from Humboldt Park and Logan Square to Wicker Park and Bucktown. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced earlier this spring that an initial $46 million had been secured for the first phase of the trail development.
ParkScores are based equally on three factors:
Park access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ½-mile);
Park size/acreage, which is based on a city's median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks;
Services and investment, which combines the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita park spending.
ParkScore ranks San Francisco, Sacramento, Boston and New York as the nation's top city park systems. Louisville, Charlotte and Fresno received the lowest ParkScores among the 40 largest U.S. cities. For a complete list of ParkScore rankings, visit: ParkScore.TPL.org
According to The Trust for Public Land, the parks are ranked as follows:
1. San Francisco
3. Boston, New York (tie)
5. Washington, DC
7. Virginia Beach
8. San Diego
12. San Jose
16. Kansas City, Milwaukee, Phoenix
19. Long Beach, Austin
23. Las Vegas
24. Fort Worth
25. Los Angeles
27. El Paso, Columbus
31. Tucson, Memphis
33. Oklahoma City
35. San Antonio
36. Indianapolis, Mesa