Parks and Quality of Life: Differences among African American and White Residents

The question of whether parks are equally available to African American and white residents is of growing concern among public officials, urban and regional planners, parks and recreation managers, and landscape architects. This paper examines the distribution of parks among African American and white residents in metropolitan Detroit and considers relationships between parks, their use by each group, and their overall quality of life. The study uses structural equation modeling to analyze household survey data and GIS data covering the location and amount of parkland. Findings show that, on average, African Americans lived closer to parks and had more parkland within one-half mile of home. However, African Americans were less likely to visit parks and more likely to rate them poorly. For both groups, local park ratings were positively associated with neighborhood satisfaction and higher quality of life.