5/7 • NewsDistrict of ColumbiaWashington D.C.

Here’s How Many People In DC Live In A ‘Park Desert’

By Dan Taylor

It’s no secret that public parks are essential to a community’s health, particularly for kids. They provide a safe place for people to gather, explore and play. They give dogs a place to frolic. They often increase the value of surrounding homes. And they can serve as a home for major festivals and events.

But new data crunched by The Trust for Public Land released Tuesday suggests many Americans — one in three — don’t have access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of their home.

In D.C., 659,368 residents, or a whopping 98 percent, live near a park — so it’s good news for our area. Conversely, just 15,536 residents live in so-called “park deserts.”

Here’s a breakdown of D.C.:

  • Total parks: 606
  • Total acreage: 7,983, which is equal to 6,048 football fields
  • Percent of kids who live within a 10-minute walk of a park: 97 percent

To see which neighborhoods have the most and least access to a park, click here and enter your city’s name. Then scroll down about half-way and click the button labeled “DIVE DEEP: See where your community needs parks the most.”

The dark green areas on the map indicate existing park space and the red areas show neighborhoods that need a park. The blue circled numbers indicate the best locations for new park development, ranked by how significant an impact it would have on the neighborhood.

Nationwide, just 54 percent of people live near a park, the organization found.

“Today, more than 100 million people in communities across America don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of home — and that’s 100 million too many,” Diane Regas, president and CEO of the organization, said in a release. “ParkServe will help us address this challenge, so every person in America can experience the countless benefits of having a park close to home.”

The group says this is the first time in America’s history that every park in each urban municipality has been mapped. Residents can now determine who has and who lacks walkable access to a park, an important tool for city planners.

The tool also allows people to see the percentage of residents who live near a park by income, ethnicity, age and other demographic factors.

“The ParkServe data platform takes the guesswork out of planning where to put a park,” said Breece Robertson, the director of the group’s geographic information system. “It tells mayors and recreation departments, ‘To serve the most people in need, build a park right here.’ ”


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