Green spaces are a vital part of a city’s landscape.
Not only are they places to spend a couple of hours lounging around with a good book or gathering with friends for lunch—City green spaces are critical to our emotional and physical wellbeing, according to researchers.
While we consider water, shelter, and clean air necessary for our health, we often forget the importance of natural spaces in places that are often overcrowded with buildings and streets.
“Studies have found that people who spend as little as spend two hours in nature each week report higher levels of wellbeing compared to those that don’t,” say researcher from Discover Magazine. “These boosts to mental and physical health span across socioeconomic statuses, neighborhoods and genders.”
This spring, K Van Bourgondien analyzed the 50 largest metropolitan areas to determine which U.S. cities have the most access to green spaces and public parks. The team used data from The Trust For Public Land to find the percentage of each city that was used for recreation.
New Orleans topped the list for the best access to green space, with 26% of city land being used for recreation. Washington (24%) came in second place while San Francisco (21%) and New York (21%) tied for third. Las Vegas (20%) followed closely in fourth place.
They also looked at the percentage of residents in the 50 largest U.S. cities that live within 10-minute walking distance of a park. According to The Trust For Public Land, parks are defined as “publicly-owned local, state, and national parks, trails, open space, school parks with a joint-use agreement with the local government, and privately-owned parks that are managed for full public use.”
San Francisco topped the list with an enormous 99.9% of residents being within a 10 minute walk to a park. Virtually everyone in the city is able to enjoy a public park with easy accessibility. Next came Boston, with 99.8% of their residents being within a 10 minute walking distance, followed by New York (99%), and Providence (98.8%).
14 of the top 20 cities had at least 90% of residents within a 10 minute walk to a park.
You can check out the full study here to see where your city matches up.