Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are San Francisco Parks the Best?

A report last week called San Francisco's park system the best in the nation, putting the city just ahead of New York.

San Francisco's Dolores Playground (photo courtesy of SFGate).

From SFGate's City Insider blog:
The survey by The Trust for Public Land scored the cities in three general areas: park accessibility (the percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park); park size and the city’s total area dedicated to parkland; and the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents and per capita spending.

San Francisco, with 98 percent of the population within close proximity of a park, just edged past New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C . in that category. San Francisco also ranked near the top in annual per capita spending, measured at $291.66. Only the nation’s capital spends more, at $303.45. The average among the 40 cities rated was $105.95.

San Francisco fell short when it came to the number of playgrounds — 1.78 per 10,000 residents; the average was 2.17 — and also on the average size of the park. However, the city was near the top when it came to the percent of acreage in the city made up of parks, 17.9 percent, compared to the national average of 10.3 percent.
After more than a month of living in New York (and continually seeking parks for two young kids), I have to say these findings sound about right.

Central Park and Bryant Park are fantastic, but the parks and playgrounds in much of the city are underwhelming. For one, there's often no grass. Typically playgrounds are built on concrete or asphalt, surrounded by steel cages.

(Now, I once advocated for less open space in cities. So I guess I've become a hypocrite in my parental years. This happens.)

Anyway, when we were living temporarily in Midtown, we spent a fair bit of time at Twenty-Four Sycamores Park (near the on-ramp to the Queensboro Bridge), which has fun play structures but no green area.

Twenty-Four Sycamores Park (photo courtesy of New York parks department).

And some "playgrounds" have no play structure at all. One morning we were hunting for a park near the United Nations when we came upon this.

Looks fun for playing roller hockey, but not great for a 3-year-old.

There was a dog run next to it, so at least the canines are being taken care of.`