Hometown Shame

Yearning for green space: Houston ranks a woeful 39th out of 50 major cities in parks

No green space: Houston ranks a woeful 39th out of 50 cities in parks

Eleanor Tinsley Park swingset downtown skyline Houston
According to the index, Houston doesn't have nearly enough playgrounds per resident . . . and that's just the beginning. Photo by Alfred/Search.reel-scout.com
map of Houston parks highlighted parks in Houston
An interactive map shows how park access correlates with obesity, income and more. Park Score
Eleanor Tinsley Park swingset downtown skyline Houston
map of Houston parks highlighted parks in Houston

Despite all of Houston's recent efforts to promote and foster green space, the city just can't quite keep up in terms of providing sufficient park space for its residents. 

A new ParkScore index from The Trust for Public Land ranks the 50 largest cities in the United States according to how well each is meeting the need for parks, and Houston tied with Nashville for No. 38 on the list, scoring 39 on a scale of 100. 

The report considered park acreage, city services and investment (according to playgrounds per resident and spending per resident) and access (or percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a public park).

An interactive map of Houston's parks shows interesting correlations between park access and childhood obesity and income distribution, and demonstrates that, while much of the city's Inner Loop has good access (with several notable exceptions), areas outside of I-610 are plagued with "high" and "very high" need. 

How do we measure up in terms of government investment? Whereas No. 1 ranked Minneapolis spends around $210.33 per resident on its parks and New York, at No. 2, spends approximately $160.33, Houston tallies a paltry $43.33 per resident. 

Dallas and Austin tied with Detroit for No. 26 on the list, each earning two-and-a-half park benches (or a ParkScore of 48.5), and even El Paso beat Houston by two spots at No. 36. San Antonio took No. 44 with a ParkScore of 33.5.