With Beauty and Access For All
Even though the benefits of parks and open spaces are significant, many Americans do not enjoy equitable access to amenities like public parks, gardens, trails, or playgrounds. According to the Trust for Public Land, almost 30 percent of urban residents do not have a park or playground within a 10-minute walk of their homes. Widespread evidence suggests that poor communities are more likely to have lower-quality parks than wealthier ones, along with fewer trees.
Our nation’s finest parks and open spaces were created when individuals and organizations collaborated to make scenic beauty a priority and to make it easier for all people to enjoy access to these scenic spaces. Today, more and more communities are creating parks in unexpected places: on top of freeways, redeveloped parking lots, and reclaimed industrial zones, to name a few.
Some of the most interesting examples of these innovative park spaces include:
- Freshkills Park on Staten Island, a 2,000-acre park created on a reclaimed landfill
- the Denver High Line Canal, a 60-mile recreation trail aligned with the irrigation waterway
- the 51-mile conversion of the Los Angeles River from a concrete flood control channel and urban wasteland to an urban greenway
- A 150-mile hike and bike trail along Houston’s bayou system primarily used for flood control
- Scenic America’s Scenic Pittsburgh chapter has played a part in converting unused or under-used parcels of land into community assets
These transformative projects are distinct, scenic, and appropriate to their physical context. They attract locals and visitors of all ages and backgrounds with extensive opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Addressing Outdoors Equity
In response to concerns about equitable access to parks, organizations like 10-Minute Walk have emerged. A partnership of the Trust for Public Land, the Urban Land Institute, and the National Recreation and Park Association, 10-Minute Walk develops strategies to ensure that everyone living in American cities has safe, easy access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home by 2050. The organization also promotes the creation of new parks, the protection of existing parks, and urban design that promotes walkability.