As the most populated city in the US, New York City residents also have adequate public parks offering a wide variety of recreational services. New York City parks fall under three different management entities namely Federal, State, and Municipal. The US National Park Service (NPS) manages parks that fall under historic properties and open spaces. On the other hand, the New York State Office of Parks (NYS OPRHP) manages and operates historical parks and state parks wholly within the state territories. Currently, NYS OPRHP manages 35 historic sites and 180 state parks. Lastly, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), also called the Parks Department or NYC Parks, has the mandate of maintaining the city’s parks and the systems that make the park successful including preserving the environment, ecosystem, and park structures.
The Three Largest New York City Parks
New York City has approximately 28,000 acres of municipal parks that include the largest park, Pelham Bay Park. Below is a summary of three of the largest parks in New York City and what they offer to the public.
Pelham Bay Park
Pelham Bay Park is the largest park and lies on 2,765 acres in the Bronx and operated by the DPR. During the American Revolutionary War, the land where this park lies acted as a buffer zone between the British-occupied New York City and rebel-occupied Westchester. Officially created in 1888 and previously a Naval training base, the park hosts a variety of flora and fauna species as well as man-made features that attract millions of visitors annually. Pelham Bay Park is home to the man-made Orchard Beach, the Pelham Bay Park Nature Center, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary, the Hunter Island Marine Zoology and Geology Sanctuary, Pelham Bay Golf Course, and the Bronx Victory War Memorial which honors the over 900 soldiers from the Bronx who died in WWI. Visitors have a variety of facilities including a nature trail, restaurants, hiking, biking, tennis and basketball courts, a baseball field, a jungle gym, and a 13-mile fishing coastline among many other services for people of all ages.
Covering a total area of 1,778 acres, GreenBelt Park is in the borough of Staten Island managed by the DPR in partnership with the Greenbelt Conservancy, a non-profit agency that raises funds to maintain parks. The park has a sophisticated and interconnected nature trails in the forested hills of Staten Island. With a diverse wildlife, the park has several amphibian species like the green frog and the American bullfrog, reptiles like the eastern box turtle, the northern water snake, and the common snapping turtle. This park’s mammals include white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail, and the eastern chipmunk among others and with bird species like the downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, and the blue jay. Waterways in the park harbor a variety of fish species such as the largemouth bass, green sunfish, and bluegill among others.
Van Cortlandt Park
Van Cortlandt Park, named after the prominent Van Cortlandt family, is the third largest park in the City of New York and covers an area of 1,146 acres in the Bronx. The responsibility of managing the park lies with the DPR, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, and the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park. For sports and recreation, the Van Cortlandt Park has a variety of facilities including two golf courses, five soccer fields, five hiking trails, six baseball fields, four football fields, ten cricket fields, and other facilities for swimming, horse riding, tennis, cross-country running, children playing grounds, and a stadium. The Van Cortlandt Lake in the park, a man-made lake, also offers fishing and has several species of fish like the largemouth bass, yellow perch, and bluegill. The forest has several tree and animal species including the black oak and tulip tree as well as owls, bats, raccoons, and coyotes. For the preservation of history, the original Van Cortlandt family house acts as the Park’s Museum.
Other Public Parks in New York
Other parks worth mentioning on this list include Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens covering 897 acres, Freshkills Park in Staten Island covering 813 acres and Marine Park in Brooklyn covering 798 acres. These parks provide residents of New York and other visitors with a variety of amenities fit for the highly populated and ever-busy city.