PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) —  We’re number 9! The nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land ranked Portland’s park system as the ninth best in the U.S. in its annual ParkScore index report.

Published on May 24, the report sandwiches Portland between Seattle (#8) and New York City and Boston (tied for #10). The Portland Parks and Recreation Department said that the ranking is thanks to the community’s commitment to its local parks, natural areas, recreation programs and trees.

“We’re proud of the city’s wide variety of parks and recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities,” Portland Parks and Recreation said. “From our world-famous rose garden to our extensive network of trails, there is something for everyone who lives in, works in, plays in, or visits Portland.”

The organization’s ParkScore index analyzes park systems across the 100 largest cities in the U.S., and ranks them based on access, investment, acreage, amenities, and equity.

“The ParkScore index uses advanced Geographic Information Systems and spatial analysis to evaluate park accessibility,” Trust for Public Land states. “Instead of measuring distance to a local park, the rating system’s GIS technology considers the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access. For example, if residents are separated from a nearby park by a major highway, the ParkScore index does not count the park as accessible to those residents unless there is a bridge, underpass or easy access point across the highway.”

The Trust for Public Land report gives Portland a score of 85 for park access and a perfect 100 in the investment category. According to the report, Portland also boasts excellent, uniform rates for the number of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a local park. The data states that roughly 90% of all measured demographics, including people of various ages, incomes and ethnicities, live within a 10-minute walk of a local park in Portland — 16% higher than the median rate of the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S.

Mt. Tabor Park on a foggy morning. (KOIN file photo)

The size and amenities offered at Portland’s parks, however, vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood. The report states that Portland’s neighborhoods of color have roughly 27% less park space per person, on average. Parks in predominantly white neighborhoods, meanwhile, are roughly 73% larger than the city’s median park size. These numbers are comparable to park acreage differentials seen between Portland’s low-income and high-income neighborhoods.

Portland’s parks also received mixed scores for its park amenities when compared to other major U.S. cities. While Portland earned perfect 100s for the number of public dog parks, bathrooms and splash pads available per 100,000 citizens, it flounders in the number of basketball hoops (35/100), playgrounds (24/100) and rec and senior centers (19/100) available. Although Portland had a perfect dog park score, the city was bested by Boise for the title of best U.S. city for dog parks in 2023.

Cherry blossoms at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, March 22, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Arden)

“Boise defended its title as the best park system for dogs, with a nation-leading 7.5 dog parks per 100,000 residents, outscoring Portland, Oregon and Norfolk, Virginia,” the report states.

The top 12 U.S. cities with the best park systems, according to Trust for Public Land include:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. St. Paul, Minn.
  3. Minneapolis, Minn.
  4. Irvine, Calif.
  5. Arlington, Va.
  6. Cincinnati, Ohio
  7. San Francisco, Calif.
  8. Seattle, Wash.
  9. Portland, Ore. (map)
  10. New York City/Boston, Mass. (tied)
  11. Chicago, Ill.

While Portland’s 330 parks are abundant enough to earn the city top 10 honors, a map included in the report shows several areas of Portland in need of more parks.

According to the map, areas of Cully, Irvington, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Centennial, Hazelwood, North Tabor and Sunnyside are among the Portland neighborhoods with the greatest need for a new park.