Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, and other natural places. We’re working with communities across the country to ensure that everyone lives within easy walking distance of a well-maintained park.

Learn more about our work at tpl.org.

What is ParkScore®?

ParkScore® is the most comprehensive rating system ever developed to measure how well the 100 most populous U.S. cities are meeting their residents’ need for parks. ParkScore® was designed to help local communities improve their park systems and identify where new parks are needed most.

Why are parks so important?

Close-to-home opportunities to exercise and experience nature are essential for our physical and mental well-being. Studies show that parks encourage physical activity, reduce crime, revitalize local economies, and help bring neighborhoods together.

Learn more about the benefits of parks.

How is a city’s ParkScore® determined?

ParkScore® is based on the three most important characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, facilities and investment, and access.

  • Acreage: a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks
  • Facilities and Investment: total park spending per resident, facilities include the number of:
    • basketball hoops per 10,000 residents
    • dog parks per 100,000 residents
    • playgrounds per 10,000 city residents
    • recreation and senior centers per 10,000 residents
  • Accessibility: the percentage of residents living within a ten-minute walk of a public park

Learn more about the methodology behind ParkScore®.

What do the benches mean?

ParkScore® awards a rating of zero to five park benches. One bench means the park system needs major improvement, while five benches means the park system is outstanding.

What kind of park spending is considered in a city’s ParkScore®?

ParkScore® includes all capital and operational spending by all agencies that own parkland within the city limits, including federal, state, and county agencies

Does ParkScore® measure park quality?

Park quality is impossible to measure objectively, so there is no specific scoring factor for it. However, the three factors that make up ParkScore® all reflect quality: good park systems need adequate acreage, services and investment, and access.

To learn more about what makes a quality park system, see The Trust for Public Land’s report, The Excellent City Park System: What Makes It Great and How to Get There.

What can I do to help improve park access in my city?

Get involved and stand up for parks! Urge elected officials to improve your city’s ParkScore® by supporting smart investments in parks. City leaders and park planners should review our detailed data to identify where new parks are needed most and which park improvements can deliver the greatest impact.

Can a city improve its ParkScore®?

Yes. Every city can improve its ParkScore®. Even in tough economic times, park planners and advocates are finding innovative ways to increase acreage, boost access, and make smart investments in parks. The Trust for Public Land offers an array of services to help cities expand and improve their park systems.

Contact us for a consultation

How to use the ParkEvalator®?

The ParkEvaluator® is a tool created by The Trust for Public Land that can be used for evaluating locations for new parks and their potential impact to ParkScore demograpic criteria.

User Manual PDF Document

Parks can be expensive. Should cities prioritize acquiring land for new parks, even in tough budget years?

Creating new parks is important, but acquiring land is only one of many strategies to improve park systems. In some cases, a city can increase its ParkScore® by adding new park entrances or creating safe routes around obstacles like waterways and busy streets.

How can The Trust for Public Land help my city?

The Trust for Public Land provides comprehensive services to help local leaders improve their park systems.

Learn more about our conservation and park services.

Can I access previous year's rankings?

You can access historic ParkScore® rankings here.

Contact us to obtain additional historic information from ParkScore®.

My city is not listed. Why? How do I get it included in ParkScore®?

The Trust for Public Land analyzed the park systems of the 100 most populous U.S. cities.

Contact us to find out how to add your city to ParkScore®.