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The Public Value of Urban Parks

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Document date: June 21, 2004
Released online: June 21, 2004

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).


Parks have long been recognized as major contributors to the physical and aesthetic quality of urban neighborhoods. But a new, broader view of parks has recently been emerging. This new view goes well beyond the traditional value of parks as places of recreation and visual assets to communities, and focuses on how policymakers, practitioners, and the public can begin to think about parks as valuable contributors to larger urban policy objectives, such as job opportunities, youth development, public health, and community building.

This first in a series of policy briefs reviews the traditional value of parks and explains how parks are claiming new attention for their broader potential. It goes on to discuss how parks are building new partnerships to strengthen their communities in these broader ways—but that, to do so, they need reliable information about community needs and the effects of actions intended to meet those needs. The brief concludes with a discussion of how public support for parks increases as they expand their role, creating a self-reinforcing process.

The examples cited and the policy implications in these briefs derive largely from material gathered by researchers at the Urban Institute in the course of an evaluation of The Wallace Foundation's Urban Parks Initiative, a wide-ranging effort to determine how to improve the quality of urban parks, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, and to broaden urban leaders' understanding of the importance of parks to the health and vitality of cities.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).



Topics/Tags: | Cities and Neighborhoods


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Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.

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