City 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 cities and its residents. Dating back to the 19th century when Frederick Law Olmsted introduced the first large-scale city parks to this country, these green spaces provided relief from urban intensity for city 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 city 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. This massive movement to rebuild America's forgotten city parks now includes thousands of community partnerships and millions of volunteers.
The Parks Practices Web site has been developed by the City Parks Alliance (CPA) and National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) partnership to assist local parks in meeting their current needs more effectively as they encounter the ever present challenges in preserving, maintaining, operating and funding their parks and in serving their increasingly diverse constituents. Park leaders have developed innovative approaches to address these issues, responding to a changing economic climate where public budgets for city parks have been reduced and the reliance on the public sector grows. The site seeks to highlight the experience of CPA and NAOP members both successes and failures, facilitate a sharing of lessons learned, and provide opportunities for interaction among city park leaders and citizen groups. It is hoped that through this effort there will be greater investment in city parks across the country and a renewed interest in their role as centers of our common heritage. (Source: National Association for Olmsted Parks)