It had to happen sometime. For the last three years, Minneapolis held the crown for having the nation's best municipal park system, with The People's City of St. Paul running a close second. But its reign has officially concluded.
Washington D.C. is now king. So says The Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco nonprofit that builds parks and preserves land for public enjoyment. While St. Paul remains at No. 2, Minneapolis was bumped to third place.
It wasn't so much that Minneapolis fell off its game, despite a spate of controversies. (See: Sexual violence survivors memorial, a move by board members to triple their pay, and the continuing saga of Bde Maka Ska.) It's just that D.C. took its game to a whole new level, leaving the Trust almost apologetic in taking away our crown.
“Investments in new playgrounds and other park amenities pushed the nation’s capital ahead of the Twin Cities for the first time in ParkScore history...” the group announced. “Trust for Public Land analysts stress the Twin Cities’ ranking decline was due to improvements made by Washington, not by changes to the local park system.”
The rankings are premised on four factors: Access, meaning the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk from a park. Investment per resident. A city's median park size and percentage of land devoted to parks. And amenities, ranging from swimming to basketball courts to off-leash-dog parks to senior centers.
The upside is that 98 percent of St. Paulites live within a 10-minute walk of a park, with Minneapolis falling a shade lower at 96 percent. Both are well above the national average of 72 percent.
Over all, the Trust ranked the country's largest 100 cities. Or at least it tried. Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana declined to cooperate. Data was unavailable for Gilbert, Arizona.
The 10 best cities, as one might expect, are places with a history of investing in quality of life:
1. Washington, DC
2. Saint Paul, MN
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. Arlington, VA
5. Portland, OR
6. Irvine, CA
7. San Francisco, CA
8. Cincinnati, OH
9. New York, NY
10. Chicago, IL
The worst, as one also might expect, are the kind of places you're sentenced to live if you're mean to old people and don't like children:
90. Lubbock, TX
91. Baton Rouge, LA
92. Fresno, CA
93. Hialeah, FL
94. Laredo, TX
95. Mesa, AZ
96. Charlotte, NC
97. Oklahoma City