A City Rich in Parks with Patches of Orange and Red

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The Concrete Jungle isn’t in Manhattan. It’s in southeastern Queens, Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.

Those are places that have “park deserts,” according to an analysis released Thursday by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land that showed areas more than a half-mile from a park.

But in general, the analysis showed that a tremendous proportion of the city – 97 percent – was within a 10-minute walk from a park.

The result is a map of New York City that is nearly all green, with limited splotches of yellow and red, colors the Trust used to denote areas without easy access to parks.

“It’s not a glass half-empty at all,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president of the Trust. “It’s a glass that’s nearly full. When you look at the other cities, you see cities that are almost entirely in orange and red.”

Green areas are within a 10 minute walk of a park, while orange areas are further away. Red areas are also further than 10 minutes from a park and have high population density or other exacerbating factors such as poverty or high numbers of young people. (Trust for Public Land.)

Benepe, said part of the city’s success was due to a push by the Bloomberg administration to renovate public school grounds and open them up to the public during non-school hours. Benepe served as New York City’s parks commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2002 to 2012. In 2007, the city committed to making sure every New Yorker lived within a half-mile of a park in large part because the Trust had popularized that measure as a standard of optimal park access, Benepe said.

Also on Thursday, the Trust for Public Lands ranked New York City as the second best city for parks in the country for the second year in a row, after Minneapolis. New York also scored well in terms of park funding and some other measures. The median size of New York’s parks, however, was 1.1 acres, about a sixth of the average 6.0 acres for the 60 cities that the Trust surveyed.

To some extent, park deserts are located in relatively leafy neighborhoods of single family homes – but not all. Dense areas such as Jackson Heights, Queens, also lack parks because of a lack of foresight, Benepe said.

“Because there was a lot of unplanned development, where the shots were being called by real estate developers, neighborhoods were developed without thinking about parks,” he said.