St. Paul, Minneapolis finish in top 3 city park systems in U.S. for 10th straight year

Both of the Twin Cities finished in the top three city park systems in the country, but neither took the top spot, ParkScore announced Thursday. 

Washington D.C. took the top spot in 2021 for the first time in two years. It previously topped the rankings in 2019 as well, when it dethroned Minneapolis' two-year run as the top park system. 

St. Paul and Minneapolis have both placed in the top three nationally each year since the ranking began 10 years ago. This is due, in part, to 99% of St. Paul residents and 98% of Minneapolis residents living within 10 minutes of a city park. Minneapolis was the reigning title holder in 2020, with St. Paul finishing third. 

The ParkScore rating is calculated based on the following criteria: 

  • Park equity – new this year to the calculation, ParkScore compares per capita park space in neighborhoods of color versus White neighborhoods and in low-income neighborhoods vs. high-income neighborhoods.
  • Park access – The percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park.
  • Park acreage – The city’s median park size and the percentage of city area dedicated to parks.
  • Park investment – Park spending per resident.
  • Park amenities – The availability of basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, splashpads, water play structures, recreation and senior centers and restrooms.

According to ParkScore, D.C. took the top spot this year because of the new park equity metric. Nationwide, people of color have 44% less access to park space than residents in White neighborhoods, but that number is close to zero in Washington, D.C. That number is 30% in St. Paul and 58% in Minneapolis. 

Elsewhere in the country, Boston and San Francisco were the only two cities in the U.S. where 100 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a city park. 

Boise, Idaho was once again the best park system for dogs where the city boasts 6.3 dog parks per 100,000 residents. Irvine, California has the most basketball hoops per capita and Madison, Wisconsin scored best for playgrounds. 

The top 10 city park systems in the U.S. are as follows: 

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. St. Paul
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Arlington, VA
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Irvine, CA
  8. Cincinnati, OH
  9. Seattle, WA
  10. Portland, OR