Natural Resources

People standing in Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The City will support quality parks and public space in low-income, growing, and high-density neighborhoods through the Community Parks Initiative and other efforts while pursuing a Parks Without Borders strategy to enhance neighborhood access and connectivity to parks.

A high-quality, easily accessible open space is a foundation of vibrant neighborhoods. It is part of the city’s public realm and includes all outdoor spaces, such as our city’s parks, public spaces, streets, and natural habitats, which together make up more than 40 percent of New York City’s land area. As an integrated system, a great open space can attract residents and businesses, and promote greater use of recreational, civic, cultural, and natural resources.

All New Yorkers experience open spaces every day—whether on the street, in a park, or just looking out the window. Access to high-quality outdoor spaces, streets, and sidewalks produces tangible benefits. Parks and public space are essential to economic development, civic engagement, and community revitalization, promoting interaction with neighbors, attracting visitors, and providing a venue for art and culture. In addition, these resources have significant public health and environmental benefits, providing active and passive recreation opportunities, reducing pollution, and helping to minimize the impact of climate change.

New York City strives to make its open spaces more useful, accessible, and beautiful. To accomplish this, we will develop a data-driven improvement strategy to ensure a deep understanding of existing assets and then make targeted investments to deliver the greatest benefits to the most New Yorkers. Many of New York City’s parks and public spaces were designed 50 or 100 years ago and now require significant investment to meet changing demands, including new patterns of development, demographic trends, and park users’ interests.

Unfortunately, both the quantity and quality of these resources vary, with too many New Yorkers lacking access to neighborhood parks and more than 200 parks having received less than $250,000 each in capital investment over the last 20 years. Beautiful parks and public spaces improve quality of life, attracting residents and businesses to New York City. In addition, enhancements to our city’s natural environment generate environmental benefits, including reduced pollution and improved storm-water management and flood resiliency. These resources help reduce stress, lower asthma rates, improve focus and mood, and, for children, are related to improved academic performance.

Investment in open spaces has often been disjointed, resulting in disparate projects with their own distinct priorities. By planning for the city’s open spaces as a unified system, we can increase quality and efficiency, enhance park access, and improve neighborhood connections. A more cohesive and coordinated strategy will target high-impact projects to underserved neighborhoods, improve access to recreational amenities, and bring the beauty of our parks to other public spaces, including streets, sidewalks, and pedestrian plazas. Significant investment, directed by a data-driven, equity-focused framework, is needed to ensure that the quality of our open space keeps pace with the city’s growing population and changing needs.