No one person created the city park system if it can be called a “system” at all. In the period just before and after the Civil War, many of the best-known parks in the country were designed and built. These included parks from Central Park through New York State upward to Buffalo. Much further west, parks were built in the then large city of San Franciso.
Even some of America’s broken-down cities have famous parks. These include Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. At 932 acres, it has breathtaking views of the river and the city. Belle Isle was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park, and the most widely regarded landscape architect in American history.
To identify the largest urban park, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the acreage data for parks in the 100 largest cities in the country from the non-profit Trust for Public Land’s 2021 Park Score Index.
According to the TPL, those cities oversee roughly two million acres of city parkland – about the same size as Yellowstone National Park – of which 1.7 million acres are considered “natural” acres and the remainder tagged as “designated” acres. The median city manages about 6,000 acres of parks, or about 9% of its populated land area.
The most expansive urban park is found in south-central Alaska. Chugach State Park, located mostly within the city of Anchorage, spans nearly 500,000 acres. The Alaska Range circles the park to the north and west, while the Chugach and Wrangell mountains and Prince William Sound border it to the east, providing visitors with views of the ocean shoreline, lakes, glaciers, and ice fields. The park’s western borders are within seven miles of downtown Anchorage.
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