A recent article in the Gotham Gazette documents the perks of a good park, far beyond its immediate function as a facility for recreation and rest. According to “The Central Park Effect”, Central Park attracts more than 25 million visitors a year, about one fifth of whom come from outside the city. Spending by these visitors directly and indirectly accounted for $395 million in economic activity. This activity, as well as increases in property values near the park, generated $656 million in revenues for the city in 2007.
In its first week, the High Line attracted more than 70,000 visitors. According to the New York Times, City officials have predicted that development sparked by the High Line as a public park will bring $4 billion in private investment and $900 million in revenues to the city over the next 30 years.
“Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System,” a report released by the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land, found that “numerous studies have shown that the more webs of human relationships a neighborhood has, the stronger, safer and more successful it is.” Good parks assist communities in creating viable human relationships, which in turn lead to stronger and more cohesive neighborhoods. This can “reduce a city’s cost for policing, fire protection and criminal justice.”
Good public space is an imperative part of a good city, but in order to yield positive results, cities must invest in their parks. The tremendous success of the High Line has been made possible largely through the generosity of donors. Public space fallen into disrepair can have significant negative effects on the city and parks in the outer boroughs and in lower-income neighborhoods are especially at risk. A small donation made to your local public park can go a long way in your neighbohood and your city; support your city by supporting your parks!