Trust for Public Land officials met with Twin Cities mayors Betsy Hodges and Chris Coleman and Park Board President Liz Wielinski and Superintendent Jayne Miller Wednesday. Credit:

Minneapolis, St. Paul park systems tie for top honors

Updated: May 26, 2015 - 12:08 pm

Minneapolis and St. Paul both took first place in The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore index Wednesday, receiving perfect scores.

Minneapolis has received the top honor for three consecutive years, but has never shared it with St. Paul, which was included in the index for the first time this year. The index expanded from 60 to 75 of the country’s largest cities (St. Paul is 66th). 

“We’re thrilled our park systems are getting the recognition they deserve,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota director of The Trust for Public Land, in a statement. “But we can’t rest on our laurels. As our cities grow and draw families to new and redeveloping neighborhoods, our park systems must evolve.”

Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York and Portland rounded out the top six cities, the latter two tying for fifth place. The index is based on three factors: park access, park size and facilities and investment. 

On its blog, the organization praised the Twin Cities for their emphasis on biking, creative green spaces, historical integration, collaborations between local groups and year-round recreation. 

In Minneapolis, 95 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, just shy of Saint Paul’s 96 percent. Median park size in Minneapolis is 6.8 acres, while St. Paul’s is 3.7. However, both cities scored strongly across the board, receiving the top score, perfect 5 “park bench” ratings. Page Knudsen Cowles, a national board chair and Minneapolis resident, presented an award to the the  Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board during its May 20 meeting.

“We’re honored to stay in the top spot on the ParkScore Index and are thrilled to share this honor with our friends across the river,” said Liz Wielinski, Park Board president. “We will continue our work to ensure that parks and park services meet the needs of the community and are accessible to everyone, with a focus on the most diverse, underserved areas of the city.”

The index website also provides local park officials and the public with data, analysis and interactive maps to guide park improvement efforts. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul will host the 2017 International Urban Parks Conference, a park-focused conference presented by City Parks Alliance. 


According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking city park systems in the United States are:


1. Minneapolis (tie) 5.0 park benches

1. Saint Paul (tie) 5.0 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)

3. Washington, D.C. 5.0 park benches

4. San Francisco 4.5 park benches

5. New York (tie) 4.5 park benches

5. Portland (tie) 4.5 park benches

7. Cincinnati 4.5 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)

8. Boston 4.0 park benches

9. San Diego (tie) 4.0 park benches

9. Seattle (tie) 4.0 park benches


The 12 lowest-ranking park systems are:


64. Stockton (tie) 2.0 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)

64. Tucson (tie) 2.0 park benches

64. Wichita (tie) 2.0 park benches 

67. Memphis 2.0 park benches

68. Jacksonville 2.0 park benches 

69. Santa Ana, CA 1.5 park benches

70. Mesa, AZ (tie) 1.5 park benches

70. Oklahoma City (tie) 1.5 park benches

72. Louisville 1.5 park benches

73. Indianapolis 1.5 park benches

74. Charlotte (tie) 1.5 park benches

74. Fresno (tie) 1.5 park benches