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It's a tie: Minneapolis, St. Paul both No. 1 on best city parks rankings


For the third year in a row, Minneapolis has ranked No. 1 on the Trust for Public Land's annual city park ranking, and St. Paul has tied its neighbor in its first year of eligibility.

The fourth annual ParkScore Index, which was unveiled Wednesday, looks at park access (how close residents live to a park), park size, and facilities and investments in the 75 largest cities in the United States. Previous rankings only included the 60 largest cities – St. Paul is the 66th largest, so it didn't quite make the cut, a news release notes.

"It's a remarkable harmonic convergence to have two cities next to each other, let alone cities known as Twin Cities, get twinned as the two best park systems in the United States," Adrian Benepe of the Trust for Public Land told the Star Tribune.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul scored 84 out of 100 – good for five out of five park benches – on this year's ranking, with a strong showing in all the rating factors.

Here's a look at how the two cities compare:

  • Percentage of people living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 96 percent in St. Paul, 95 percent in Minneapolis.
  • Median park size: Minneapolis 6.8 acres to St. Paul's 3.7.
  • Spending on parks per resident: Minneapolis spends $223.94; St. Paul $210.19.
  • Basketball hoops per 10,000 residents: 1.7 in Minneapolis; St. Paul has 4.1.
  • Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.7 in Minneapolis; 1.4 in St. Paul.
  • Playgrounds per 100,000 residents: 3.9 in St. Paul; 2.8 in Minneapolis.

In a blog post, the Trust for Public Land commended the two cities for its parks, listing off reasons why they rank No. 1. Among them: Minneapolis' Midtown Greenway bike trail; St. Paul's creative one-of-a-kind green space at Frogtown Park and Farm; experiencing history at the Mill Ruins Park; and the Greening the Green Line initiative along the light rail line.

“We're thrilled our park systems are getting the recognition they deserve. 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," Susan Schmidt, Minnesota Director of The Trust for Public Land, said in a news release.

The Twin Cities beat out cities known for their parks, including No. 3-ranked Washington, D.C. (score of 81); San Francisco (77.5); and New York City and Portland tying at fifth (76.5). For a complete list of the rankings, click here.

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