Despite its famed canopy, abundance of natural greenery, and celebrated public spaces such as Piedmont and Grant parks, Atlanta has consistently ranked middle-of-the-pack among major cities when it comes to overall park hierarchy.
But a compressive online tool released today by The Trust For Public Land indicates most Atlantans are hardly starved for access to green space, although trouble spots of “park deserts” aren’t uncommon, either.
Called the most thorough local parks database ever assembled, TPL’s ParkServe system maps 14,000 cities and towns—any designated by the U.S. Census as “urban”—with data covering more than 80 percent of the U.S. population, or 250 million people, officials said.
ParkServe’s primary function is to highlight where parks exist within city limits and pinpoint where residents live within a 10-minute walk of parks (a key TPL barometer for healthy urban living), broken down by demographics.
Per the nonprofit’s findings, Atlanta’s 408 parks within city limits—that’s 4,749 acres, or nearly 3,600 football fields—are positioned so that 70.5 percent of residents have 10-minute walking access to a park. (Still, that leaves 136,000 residents outside that walkability radius).
Compare that with regional competitors such as Nashville (44 percent), Charlotte (36 percent), Dallas (63 percent), and Houston (55 percent), and Atlanta looks like a frontrunner for park accessibility.
Outperforming the ATL are leafy New Orleans (79 percent) and Miami (88 percent), although the latter city has about one-fifth of Atlanta’s sheer park acreage.
Meanwhile in Minneapolis, which has consistently been a ParkScore all-star, 96 percent of residents can walk to a park within 10 minutes, per TPL’s study.
The goal for such a deep, free analysis is to provide a means of gauging park equality and allowing city planners “to guide park improvements while providing residents with information to advocate for parks and hold their leaders accountable,” per a press release.
“The ParkServe data platform takes the guesswork out of planning where to put a park,” said Breece Robertson, TPL’s geographic information system director. “It tells mayors and recreation departments, ‘To serve the most people in need, build a park right here.’”
- ParkServe site [Trust for Public Land]