Urban parks are dynamic institutions that play a vital, but not fully appreciated or understood role in the social, economic and physical well-being of America's urban areas and its residents. Dating back to the 19th century when Frederick Law Olmsted introduced the first large-scale urban parks to this country, these green spaces provided relief from urban intensity for residents and brought people together across social, economic and racial divides. In the postwar years, when the population shifted away from urban centers, our nation's parks suffered enormously from disinvestments and many are still experiencing it.
As cities across the country are attracting millions of residents again, the center of this sweeping urban renaissance are newly revitalized parks. They are not only safe and beautiful, but also serve as green engines to help address nearly every critical urban need from health to housing, to education and environmental justice, and countering sprawl to combating crime.