Minneapolis Ranked #3 on Trust for Public Land’s 2019 ParkScore Index, closely following Washington DC and St Paul

Congratulations to Washington DC and Saint Paul! It has been an honor to be ranked number one by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) for the past six consecutive years and it’s still an honor to be ranked number three out of the 100 largest cities in the United States.

This year, the Minneapolis parks ranking was impacted by population growth in Minneapolis, and that’s not a bad thing. People move to Minneapolis, in part, because of our wonderful parks! As the population grows, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is adding parks and improving parks to meet the growing, changing needs of our community. It’s not surprising a city as green and vibrant as Minneapolis has experienced population growth which has impacted our TPL Park Score ranking. We believe parks may be a key driver of the population growth.

Our early founders had the vision to create a park system that featured a park within six blocks of all residents, but as our communities move into previously industrial or commercial areas like downtown, along the upper river and near areas of the city that have historically been industrial, we have been developing plans to ensure this is true today as well.  For more than a decade we have been focused on closing those gaps and we have seven amazing projects underway that add to the park system and help meet the needs of the community. We have already added the Cepro site in south Minneapolis and plan to open Towerside Park in Northeast Minneapolis by the end of the year. Market Square Park in South Minneapolis will be added later this year or next year. Acquisitions should be completed this year for a new North Loop park and negotiations are underway to complete a green corridor along 8th Avenue to connect the North Loop to the river and the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park.  We are adding a trail extension along Industrial Boulevard as part of our efforts to complete the Grand Rounds, and we continue to work closely with the city and community on a 19.5-acre park as part of redeveloping the Upper Harbor Terminal site.

Most importantly, we continue our important work implementing park investments based on racial equity metrics and park improvements based on extensive community outreach and engagement with the diverse communities we serve. Our primary focus is meeting our community’s park and recreation needs. We recognize that splashpads are an amenity being ranked by Trust for Public Land, but our communities have consistently weighed in in favor of wading pools over splashpads. We are proud to provide almost 80 water features for Minneapolis residents: 62 wading pools, 12 beaches, two waterparks, one natural swimming pool and one indoor aquatic facility.

We are making the park system better by continuing to engage the people of Minneapolis as our first priority, and we will perpetuate Minneapolis’ great parks through the insights and support we gain from every conversation we have with Minneapolis residents.

Minneapolis Repeats as Nation’s Best Park System for Sixth Consecutive Year on Trust For Public Land’s 2018 ParkScore® Index

Minneapolis has the best park system in the United States, according to The Trust for Public Land’s 2018 ParkScore® index.

Minneapolis narrowly edged Saint Paul to earn top honors. A different regional rivalry claimed third and fourth place, as Washington, DC, barely outscored Arlington, Virginia, to hold on to third. In another big move, Chicago cracked the top 10 for the first time in ParkScore history.


The 2018 ParkScore rankings are based equally on four factors: Park Access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; Park Acreage, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; Park Investment, which measures park spending per resident; and Park Amenities, which counts the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, “splashpads” and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers, and restrooms.

The addition of restrooms and splashpads to the Park Amenities rating factor is a significant update and improvement for ParkScore in 2018. The index also now includes volunteer hours and charitable contributions in its calculation of parks spending, providing a ranking boost to cities whose residents strongly support their park systems.

ParkScore champion Minneapolis scored well on all ParkScore rating factors. In Minneapolis, 97 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and 15 percent of city area is reserved for parks. Saint Paul outscored Minneapolis for park amenities but fell to second overall because of its smaller median park size (3.2 acres vs. 5.7 acres). Fifth place San Francisco remains the only city with 100 percent 10-minute park access.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul also benefitted from the addition of restrooms to the ParkScore index. Saint Paul leads the nation by providing 10.5 restrooms per 10,000 residents, compared to Minneapolis’ 6.8. The national ParkScore average is 2.4

Among the largest 100 ParkScore cities, public spending on parks reached $7.5 billion in 2018, a $429 million increase over the previous year. This additional funding contributed to a slight increase in park access overall. According to The Trust for Public Land, 70 percent of residents in ParkScore cities live with a 10-minute walk (or a half-mile) of a park, up from 69 percent last year.

The national nonprofit organization is leading a movement to put a park or natural area within a 10-minute walk of every U.S. resident. More than 200 mayors have endorsed the 10-minute goal.

“The research is clear: quality, close-to-home parks are essential to communities. Everyone deserves a great park within a 10-minute walk of home,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “These rankings are the gold-standard for park access and quality, and empower people to hold their leaders accountable.”

“High quality parks make cities healthier in nearly every way. Proximity to parks increases physical activity levels among children and adults, reducing risk for obesity, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Parks also help clean the air, mitigate the risk of storm damage, build relationships among neighbors, and contribute to economic growth,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land.

According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking park systems in the United States are:

Rank City  ParkScore  (Max: 100)
1 Minneapolis, MN 84.2
2 Saint Paul, MN 82.4
3 Washington, DC 81.9
4 Arlington, VA 81.6
5 San Francisco, CA 79.6
6 Portland, OR 78.3
7 Cincinnati, OH 78.2
8 Chicago, IL 76.1
9 New York, NY 74.8
10 Irvine, CA 73.4

ParkScore uses advanced GIS (Geographic Information Systems) computer mapping technology to create digital maps evaluating park accessibility. Instead of measuring distance to a local park, ParkScore’s GIS technology takes into account the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access. For example, if residents are separated from a nearby park by a major highway, ParkScore does not count the park as accessible to those residents, unless there is a bridge, underpass, or easy access point across the highway. The Trust for Public Land collaborated with GIS industry leader Esri on GIS design and implementation.

Municipal leaders can use ParkScore-generated maps to guide park improvement efforts, studying park access on a block-by-block basis and pinpointing the areas where new parks are needed most. The website is free and available to the public, empowering local residents to hold their elected leaders accountable for achieving equitable access to quality parks for all.

For more information about ParkScore, visit www.tpl.org/10minutewalk and join the discussion on Twitter @TPL_org, #ParkScore #10minwalk.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.