The City Parks Forum is about collaboration, sharing information, community, and exchanging ideas.

The City Parks Forum

We are facing a new era of defining what constitutes a park. No longer seen as simply grass and trees, parks provide a multitude of benefits to their users. In the past, parks brought an element of the country into the city. They provided relief from overcrowded housing conditions and congestion. They later evolved into recreation centers and facilities. These park functions all continue to have value today. Parks, however, have begun to play a more integrated role in our urban environments.

They provide formal and informal gathering places for building community. They help to positively influence property values. They give city dwellers a place to connect to the natural world. They make our urban areas more inviting for living, working, and relaxing.

To understand what the urban parks of the future — and the cities in which they exist — will be, urban leaders need a venue for addressing the challenges of creating and enhancing parks in their cities. The City Parks Forum provided this venue.

Briefing Papers

We have developed a series of briefing papers, written by nationally recognized park and open space experts, on topics that past mayoral participants have identified as the most pressing issues facing their cities.

Briefing Papers

Case Studies

In preparation for each forum, each city prepares a case study, which helps to define the program for the forum. The city presentations can be viewed at the various forum web pages, shown on the left. Check out Making a Difference as we track the progress of our parks grant projects.

Case Studies


A bibliography of urban parks resources has been developed specifically for The City Parks Forum.


Technical Reports

APA has published monographs on urban parks issues as part of the Planning Advisory Service reports series:

Parks, Recreation, and Open Space: A Twenty-First Century Agenda

From Recreation to Re-creation: New Directions in Parks and Open Space System Planning

Role of Parks

In March 2014, APA and the National Recreation and Park Association co-hosted "The Role of Parks in Shaping Successful Cities" roundtable in Arlington, Virginia. This event allowed planning directors and parks directors from nine large cities and urban metropolitan regions to share how their cities are using parks, open space, and planning to maximize opportunities and achieve results.

The roundtable focused on how the greatest returns on investment can be made from:

• Including parks and public open space in economic development and revitalization strategies

• Utilizing parks and recreation in planning for healthy communities

• Using green infrastructure in parks to reduce city infrastructure costs, improve stormwater management capability, and provide social and environmental benefits

The cities and metropolitan region that participated in this roundtable were Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, Philadelphia, Seattle, and St. Louis.

NRPA and APA will produce a white paper with the conclusions of the roundtable, which will help guide the next steps of a longer-term effort to re-vision APA's original City Parks Forum of 2001-2002.

Among the anticipated outcomes are an update and upgrade of the briefing papers; new evidence-based research on the economic, environmental, and social value of urban parks and green spaces; and a more focused effort to further engage urban planners, landscape architects, and parks professionals in gaining maximum value from parks.

This program has been made possible by a $2.5 million grant from the Wallace Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.