Minneapolis edges out St. Paul for nation’s best park system honor

Minneapolis park officials celebrated a No. 1 ranking from The Trust for Public Land both this and last year. Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The Minneapolis park system is once again the country’s best, inching passed St. Paul, which took second place.

Last year the Twin Cities tied for the top spot in The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore Index. This year’s index, released May 26, once again gave a perfect score to Minneapolis’ park system.

Minneapolis scored above average in each of the index’s factors: access to parks, park size and park amenities. Nearly all — 95 percent — Minneapolitans live within a 10-minute walk of a park (compared to St. Paul’s 96 percent), but 15 percent of Minneapolis area is dedicated to parks, which have a median size of 6.5 acres (compared to 3.7 acres in St. Paul), the report said.

“We’re honored by the top ranking, but not resting on our laurels. We are working continuously to improve our parks, with a focus on the most racially diverse and economically challenged areas of the city,” said Jayne Miller, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, in a statement. “During the last five years, we have invested significantly in parks throughout the city but especially in north and upper south Minneapolis with new community centers, athletic fields and the first natural swimming pool in North America.”

Minneapolis also topped the list of ranked cities in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Trust for Public Land estimates that cities rated in the index increased parks spending by $1 per person on average this year.

“Cities are investing in park systems and that’s showing up on the ParkScore index. It is great news for public health, the environment, and local economies,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land.

An in-depth breakdown of each city’s park system is available atparkscore.tpl.org.

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

1.       Minneapolis              5.0 park benches

2.       Saint Paul                  5.0 park benches     

3.       Washington, DC        5.0 park benches

4.       Arlington, VA             4.5 park benches      DEBUT YEAR

5.       San Francisco            4.5 park benches

6.       Portland, OR              4.5 park benches

7.       New York                   4.5 park benches     

8.       Irvine                          4.5 park benches      DEBUT YEAR

9.      Boston                        4.5 park benches

10.    Cincinnati (tie)            4.0 park benches

10.    Madison, WI (tie)       4.0park benches       DEBUT YEAR


The 10 lowest-ranking park systems are:

89.      Jacksonville (tie)       1.5 park benches       

89.      Oklahoma City (tie) 1.5 park benches

91.      Hialeah (tie)               1.5 park benches      DEBUT YEAR

91.       Mesa, AZ (tie)          1.5 park benches  

93.       Louisville (tie)          1.5 park benches

93.       Winston-Salem (tie) 1.5 park benches   DEBUT YEAR

95.       Charlotte (tie)          1.0 park benches

95.        Indianapolis (tie)    1.0 park benches

97.        Fresno                       1.0 park benches

98.       Fort Wayne, IN        1.0 park benches      DEBUT YEAR