Access to Parks
The percentage of residents in the City of St. Louis who live within a 10 minute walk of a park
White and black residents are almost equally likely to live within a 10-minute walk of a park.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Access to Parks, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white residents are equally likely to live within a 10 minute walk of a park. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal; we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Access to Parks measures the percentage of residents in the City of St. Louis who live within a 10 minute walk of a park. The Trust for Public Land defines parks as publicly-owned local, state, and national parks, school parks with a joint-use agreement with the local government, and privately-owned parks that are managed for full public use. By this definition, in 2018 there were 3,684 acres of parks in St. Louis, which represents 9% of the city’s land area. Nearly 95% of all city residents lived within walking distance of a park.
Access to Parks analysis
Residents who live within a 10 minute walk of a park in St. Louis City.
|All||White||Black||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Residents who live within 10-minute walk of a park||299,184||139,071||136,711||-||-|
|Percent of residents with access to parks||94.5%||94.9%||94.2%||1.007 to 1||99|
Data Source: ParkServe from The Trust for Public Land, 2018.
Data Note: ParkServe uses demographic information derived from ESRI 2017 Demographic Forecast Block Groups data.
What does this analysis mean?
There is very little racial disparity in access to parks for residents. White residents are the most likely to have access to parks (94.9%), followed by black residents (94.2%). Hispanic residents are the least likely to have access to parks (94.1%), followed by Asian residents (94.2%). If there were equitable access to parks, then 3,485 more black residents would live within walking distance of a park.
While nearly all residents in St. Louis live within walking distance of a park, those parks are of varying quality. Within the 108 parks owned by the City of St. Louis, parks can be small corner lots with grass only, to medium-sized parks with playgrounds, to large parks like Forest Park with many amenities. Future analyses of disparities in access to parks should factor in park quality.
Why does Access to Parks matter?
Parks give people a place to exercise, socialize, relax, and build community. Having safe places to play is especially important for child well-being. According to RAND researchers, people who live close to parks are more likely to exercise and are less likely to suffer from obesity and related diseases. Economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland have identified quality of life amenities such as parks as a key variable that influences economic growth for regions.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
While there are no Calls to Action that directly reference access to parks, examining access to parks is an example of applying a racial equity lens to city services. In addition, parks are an important asset to neighborhoods in terms of providing safe places to play. The related Call to Action is:
Questions for further investigation
- Is there a racial disparity in access to quality parks?
How can I learn more about this issue?
The Trust for Public Land is leading a national campaign to ensure that every person in America has access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home. Through their platform ParkServe, they have evaluated park access for cities, towns, and communities nationwide.