THE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
Standing before the stony panorama of New York City's concrete skyscrapers and asphalt streets, the average New Yorker would be surprised to learn that fully one-sixth of the city is public parkland and that a larger portion of its land is reserved for parks than in any other large American city. (See Tables 14.1 and 14.2.) In fact, the average share devoted to local parks among the nation's largest cities is only about 6 percent, less than half the equivalent figure for New York City.
Like many aspects of life in New York, however, these startling facts are part of a paradox. Although the city is well endowed with parkland, the average New Yorker is short of it. New York is so densely populated that its parkland is scarce relative to population. Among the 14 large cities, New York stands next to last in parkland per resident. Six other cities have more than twice as much per resident, and only Chicago has less.
Moreover, parkland is allocated unequally among the boroughs. One- quarter of the Bronx is parkland, although that borough accounts for less than 14 percent of the city's area. Brooklyn and Queens have smaller-than- average shares of parkland. With Central Park, Manhattan has a share of parkland just above the citywide average; Staten Island has an even larger share.
Another aspect of New York's parkland paradox is that the city has gone to great lengths to create a large park system, but it has not maintained its facilities. The neglect of these valuable assets contributes to the underutilization of parks in an overcrowded city.