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Frequently Asked Questions

Having trouble finding the information you need? Please select your area of interest below for a list of the most frequently asked questions in that category. If, after reviewing all options, your question is not answered, please let us know by contacting the commissioner.

About Parks

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is the chief steward of the City's parkland. Our mission is to build and maintain the parks of the 21st century. As we do so, we keep three guiding principles in mind: increased greening, improved access to recreational and fitness opportunities, and using parks as a vehicle for community and economic development.

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How many parks are there in New York City?

New York City has more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. Parks properties range from swimming pools to wetlands and from woodlands to skating rinks. You can visit our Park List page to find a partial list of our parks.

What is your biggest park? How big is Central Park?

Top Ten Largest Parks:

  1. Pelham Bay Park Bronx 2,765 acres
  2. Greenbelt, Staten Island 1,778 acres
  3. Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx 1,146 acres
  4. Flushing Meadows/Corona Park, Queens 898 acres
  5. Central Park, Manhattan 843 acres
  6. Marine Park, Brooklyn 798 acres
  7. Bronx Park, Bronx 718 acres
  8. Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, South and Midland Beaches, Staten Island 638 acres
  9. Alley Pond Park, Queens 636 acres
  10. Forest Park, Queens 544 acres

For more information about the size of a specific park, you can search for it using our Find a Park feature.

How can I find out more information about a park, or directions to a park?

You can use our Find a Park feature to learn more about a park, including news, facilities, and upcoming events, as well as cross streets. You can also use the Interactive Maps feature to find a map of the park. Currently, we do not have directions to specific features in larger parks available on our website.

How can I find the park nearest me? Can I search by zip code?

Yes, go to our Interactive Maps page.

What is the relationship between Parks and the Mayor?

Parks is a mayoral agency. The Commissioner is appointed by and serves the Mayor.

How do I know if my park is a City park?

New York City looks after more than 14 percent of land in the City. However, some parkland is also under state or federal jurisdiction. You can find out more by visiting our list of Other Parks in New York City.

How can I learn more about the history of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation?

The Parks Department has a wealth of historical information available to users. The easiest way to learn about Parks is to visit the Parks History page on our website. In addition to several retrospectives, the page also has links to historical signs for many parks and City landmarks, as well as links to the Parks Library and the Parks Photo Archive, which are available to the public by appointment.

Events, Games & Park Permits

Parks hosts thousands of special events each year, and hundreds of sports activities and league games. We work hard to meet each request as soon as we can. If you are looking for a permit for an event or activity, you should first check our Permits and Services page to find the permit that matches your needs. There you will find answers to many of the questions you may have as you schedule your event or game — including concessions, pricing, and rules & regulations. Please also check our special events FAQ for answers to any specific questions.

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How do I apply for a ballfield/soccer/generic sports permit?

You must fill out an application. You may visit our Field and Court Permit Requests page to make an online request. You may also visit our Field and Court Request information page to find out more information about the permit request process.

Go to the Permits and Applications page.

Where can my team find a field for practice?

Because so many people need our parks to play games, we do not have room for anyone to use our fields for practice. We suggest that you find space on an open field or in an unoccupied area of a park suited to active recreation.

What do I need to bring with me to obtain a tennis permit?

You will need to bring a check, money order, or credit card; proof of age for Senior and Junior Permits; and photo ID. For more information, please visit the Tennis Permits and Renewal Application page.

How long is a tennis permit good for?

A tennis permit is good for the entire season. For more information, please visit the Tennis Permits and Renewal Applications page.

Rules & Regulations

We need to have rules to keep our parks safe for everyone. Our Rules & Regulations webpage provides a list of all our park rules, including those related to pets, model airplanes, and consumption of alcohol. For an average park user, the first section, Use of Parks, is a good review of what to do in a park.

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Do I need a permit to take pictures or shoot film in a park?

You need a permit to shoot film or have a still photo shoot in a park. The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, (212) 489-6710, grants permits for filming in the City only, not permission to use the park. To use the park, you must also get a permit from the Parks department.

I want to have a party in a park. Do I need a permit?

Yes, if more than 20 people are expected to attend, you will need a special events permit. Please visit our Special Events Permits and Applications page for more information.

Can I bring alcohol into the parks?

No, alcohol is prohibited in all parks.

Can I camp in the parks?

No, overnight camping is prohibited in all parks. The Urban Park Rangers host supervised camping events throughout the summer. Please visit the Urban Park Rangers Events Calendar or subscribe to our Email Newsletters to find out when the next camping event will take place.

What are the rules for using Parks swimming pools?

Parks' 54 outdoor pools are great places for summer fun and active recreation. For everybody's health, safety, and protection, we ask our guests to observe a few basic pool rules.

Go to the Pool Rules page.

Things to Do

From cycling to skate parks, hiking to hockey, running to riding, there is almost no limit to the types of activities that take place within City parks. Parks are not only places where people can relax, but they are centers for active recreation as well. We make the health of New Yorkers a priority. There are things to do every day throughout our parks, as well as at our Recreation Centers and other facilities. The best way to find a program that is right for you is by checking BeFitNYC, our recreation search engine.

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What kinds of activities and programs do you offer children?

We offer a variety of activities to engage children of all ages throughout the year.

  • Playground Associates
  • Summer Festivals
  • Swim Programs
  • Sports (clinics, learn to, tournaments, youth leagues)
  • Afterschool Programs
  • Teen programs
  • Recreation Centers
  • Nature Centers
  • Special Events (Winter Jam, Street Games, Pumpkin Festival and more!)

Visit our Programs page for more information or call 311.

What kinds of services and amenities do you have for people with disabilities? How can I find accessible park entrances and facilities?

Parks is striving to meet and also surpass the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please visit our accessibility webpage to learn more about events, programs, and facilities that serve people with disabilities. You can visit our Interactive Maps to find accessible entrances. First, search for the park you are interested in. Then, click the button that is marked "Show Accessible Entrances." Accessible entrances are marked in blue, and inaccessible entrances are marked in red. We are currently surveying the accessibility of comfort stations throughout the five boroughs and will soon add this data to our interactive maps.

In addition to information included on our website, the Parks Department has placed accessible signage in all small parks, playgrounds, and parking lots. This makes sure that every park patron can access the park. Now, when a person with a disability comes upon an inaccessible entrance, there are signs with arrows directing him or her to an accessible entrance. All signage meets the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

I would like to hold a tournament. How can Parks help?

Parks may be able to provide assistance with planning and running your event. To begin, submit a special events permit application and someone will contact you after we receive your application.

How can I find out more information about my neighborhood recreation center? How can I join?

The latest information about any of our City's indoor recreational facilities can be found by visiting our Indoor Recreation Facilities page. There you can view information about each of our recreation centers, including directions, hours of operation, and phone numbers in case you have to call a particular recreation center. New York City residents can also dial 311, and non-residents can call (212) NEW-YORK for more information. In addition, you can visit BefitNYC for more information about all our fitness opportunities citywide.

Do I have to be a New York City resident to join a recreation center?

No. Recreation center membership is open to anyone. To register you will need a current, valid form of state or federal identification that carries your photograph, such as a Driver License issued from any state, or a current passport. For more information about registering for center membership, please call (212) NEW-YORK.

I am visiting New York City. Is it possible to use a recreation center during my stay?

You are welcome to use any of our recreation centers; however, we require anyone wishing to use our facilities to become a member. Memberships are processed at the centers, and the fee can be paid by credit card, check, or money order (we do not accept cash, business checks, starter checks, or checks from banks outside of New York). Please visit our Indoor Recreation Facilities page to view the schedules and locations of our centers. We hope you enjoy your visit to New York City!

What sort of recreation center discounts do you offer? What if I cannot afford to pay?

Membership in Parks' recreation centers remains one of the best values available to New Yorkers to address their recreational and fitness needs. In establishing these fees, we wanted to ensure that no group would bear an unreasonable financial burden.

  • Children can use the recreation centers free of charge.
  • Seniors need to pay only $25 a year.
  • All other adult users pay the full membership fee, which is never more than $150 a year, well below the cost of private or non-profit health clubs.

There are also many ways for people to get fit for free&mdash you may walk or jog in a park, swim for free at our outdoor pools or beaches, bike our greenways, or take a Shape Up New York class, which is a free fitness program offered through a joint effort between Parks and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. You can find links to all these resources and more by visiting BeFitNYC, our recreation search engine.

When did the fees for recreation centers increase, and what are the new prices?

As of July 1, 2011, recreation center membership fees have increased to $100 for recreation centers without indoor pools, and $150 for recreation centers with indoor pools. Membership fees for senior citizens are now $25. Children will continue to be able to join recreation centers for free.

If I am a member of a Recreation Center without a pool ($100 membership), can I use a Recreation Center with a pool ($150 membership)?

If you have a $100 membership to a Recreation Center, you can use any recreation center without a pool; however you must upgrade to a $150 membership if you would like to use a Recreation Center with a pool.

How do I find out about free tennis, golf, track & field OR senior fitness programs in parks in the five boroughs?

These programs are run by City Parks Foundation. Log on to the City Parks Foundation website and click on the blue "Sports" tab. From there, you can find the program that most interests you, how to register, and the schedule in parks near you. If you do not have internet access or if you have other questions about these programs, you may call the CityParks Sports office at (718) 760-6982.

Beaches & Pools

With 14 miles of beaches and nearly 100 outdoor and indoor pools, the City's parks are a great place to go for a swim. You can visit our Beaches page, our Pools page, or learn about our recreational facilities. You can even learn-to-swim, or become a City lifeguard!

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How do I find out which beach or pool is closest to my home?

You can go to the Swimming/Aquatics page of BeFitNYC and use the search options at the top of the page to view pools and beaches within a chosen distance from your zip code.

What are the rules for using Parks swimming pools?

Parks' 54 outdoor pools are great places for summer fun and active recreation. For everybody's health, safety, and protection, we ask our guests to observe a few basic pool rules.

Go to the Pool Rules page.

What do I have to wear to swim at City pools?

Bathing suits must be worn on the pool deck and in the water. Men's bathing suits must have mesh linings. Hats may be worn on the deck for sun protection but are not allowed in the water. If you want, you may wear a plain white T-shirt over a bathing suit. Sneakers are not permitted. Rubber flip-flops or water shoes are permitted.

Wildlife & Pet Services

It is important for us to protect and care for all the plants and animals that are in our parks, from wild birds in our natural areas, to squirrels in our City parks, to our pets who go for walks or play in our dog runs. That's why we've created rules to protect plants and animals in our spaces.

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Does a dog have to be spayed or neutered to play in the dog run?

Dogs in heat are not allowed in dog runs. Un-neutered males must be closely monitored when taken into dog runs.

What can I do if I see an injured animal?

If you see an injured animal, the best thing to do is leave the animal where it is and locate an Urban Park Ranger in the park. Tell the ranger what kind of animal it is (e.g. bird, dog, raccoon), the size and color of the animal, and its observed condition (is it dead, acting disoriented, bleeding, or just walking around?). The more information you can provide, the better.

Please remember that young animals often look as if they have been abandoned, when in fact their parents are nearby. You are encouraged to leave the animal, even a cute baby, where it is, and tell a ranger. Most animals that are suspected of being sick or abandoned are fine and will be left where they are after a ranger checks it out.

Abandoned domesticated animals (dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, et cetera) should be brought to Animal Care & Control.

Animal Care & Control of New York City
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Veterinary and Pest Pages
Wildlife in Parks

Building Parks

Happily, parkland continues to increase, and the Department of Parks & Recreation continues to launch new initiatives with the support of partners, politicians, and the community. With these changes come questions, and Parks is happy to provide accurate, timely updates on changes in your public spaces.

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  • Some of our largest ventures can be found in our Redevelopment Projects section.
  • Read about PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg's plan to make New York America's first sustainable city.
  • Learn about MillionTreesNYC, a PlaNYC initiative to plant one million trees across the city in the next decade.

My local park needs work, why hasn't it been reconstructed?

We do not have a discretionary budget to pay for improvements to parks. The money for these projects usually comes from allocations made by local elected officials. If you would like to see an improvement made to your park, you should reach out to your local elected official.

Support Your Park

Why is playground construction done during nice weather? My children can't play!

Most projects take between 6-12 months to complete, and we want our staff and contractors to work throughout the year to make construction projects go faster. In addition, some work, such as planting and blacktop pavement sports coating, can only be done in warmer weather.

Why was the playground reconstructed?

As equipment becomes worn out, we replace it. Often, we take the opportunity to update the designs to meet new safety standards, ADA requirements, and changing needs of the surrounding communities.

Should I be concerned about the black safety surface on the playgrounds?

Safety is always a priority, and we advise people to use caution on hot days. We use these materials to allow for safe, durable places on which to play. Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution for every purpose. Use common sense: Always wear shoes on these surfaces, drink plenty of water, and don't exercise or play too much on hot days.

Play It Safe

Can I have leftover materials when construction is done?

Materials that are not re-used by Parks become property of the contractor and are not for sale or donation.

Tree Concerns

New York City has more than 5.2 million trees on City parkland, and we have pledged to plant a million more in the coming decade. Like all living creatures, trees require care and upkeep to stay healthy. Although every tree is unique, many of them face similar challenges. Please look at our list of Frequently Asked Forestry Questions, or visit our Trees and Greenstreets page for more information. If you have a request about a particular tree, the best course of action is to call 311.

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Joining Parks

Although Parks is a City agency, keeping its about 29,000 acres of land clean requires some help from the people who use it. We appreciate whatever form of help our supporters are able to give, whether it is brainpower, elbow grease, or money.

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How do I join a community garden?

Undeveloped or under developed land, for gardening purposes, in New York City is scarce, to say the least. However, there are approximately 600 community gardens located throughout the 5 boroughs. We recommend people attempt to first volunteer with, and then become a member of, a garden that already exists. Contact the GreenThumb office at (212) 788-8070 and request garden contact assistance. We will supply you with pertinent contact information, with which you can then follow up with gardens and inquire about membership procedures and availability of plots/beds.

GreenThumb gardens are easy to identify by their "GreenThumb" signs. These signs contain GreenThumb's main telephone number and the Parks Department leaf logo. If you don't know the name of the garden when calling for contact information, the local community board in which the garden is located or the garden address will help us assist you in finding a conveniently located garden.

If you do have a specific piece of land for consideration as a new garden site, find out the block and lot, who owns the land, and whether or not you would have permission to start a garden there. Furthermore, if you are affiliated with a school, we have an active program of starting new school-based gardens.

Another valuable resource in locating community gardens is the OASIS/CENYC searchable community maps database on the web. There, you can search for community gardens according to various search criteria and find out detailed information regarding property.

Keeping Parks Clean

The thousands of men and women who are out every day in our parks are there to make your parks cleaner and safer. We set high goals for ourselves, and we are proud of the standard that we have reached. We conduct approximately 6,000 inspections of parks each year, and post our results for everyone to see. Once in a while, though, there may be litter found in parks, from park goers who do not fully understand the importance of cleanliness. If you see something, let us know by calling 311, or reach out to us through the Contact the Commissioner form on our website.

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How do you inspect/rate your parks? What is the rating scale?

The Parks Inspection Program began in 1984 as an initiative to measure the effectiveness of the Neighborhood Parks Restoration Program, a program in which in-house crews refurbished neighborhood parks and playgrounds. In the spring of 1985, the program was expanded by the Office of Operations, Policy, and Planning (now OMP) to evaluate playgrounds jointly-operated by Parks and the Board of Education. In March 1995, the program moved to the current system of 24 two-week rounds and 24 biweekly summary reports a year. OMP instituted random inspections of 205 sites per round, from which statistically-representative borough-wide and citywide ratings were generated. This change was possible because of the introduction of handheld computers to the inspection process. At the start of fiscal year 2014, the number of sites inspected per round was increased to 250.

Currently, the division of Operations and Management Planning (OMP) is responsible for carrying out the Parks Inspection Program (PIP). Trained inspectors from OMP perform approximately 6,000 inspections at ratable sites each year, giving each inspected site either an "Acceptable" or "Unacceptable" rating for overall condition and cleanliness. The cleanliness rating given to each site is derived from "Acceptable" or "Unacceptable" ratings given to each of four cleanliness features: litter, graffiti, glass, and weeds or ice. The overall condition rating given to each site is derived from ratings given to the four cleanliness features as well as to six structural features - sidewalks, paved surfaces, play equipment, safety surface, benches, and fences, and six landscape features: horticultural areas, water bodies, lawns, athletic fields, trails, and trees. Inspections take place in a cycle of two-week rounds. Each round, 250 ratable sites are randomly selected according to set parameters. At the conclusion of each round, individual inspections are distributed to field managers, and a summary report is produced, showing the citywide and borough-by-borough percentages of sites found "Acceptable" in cleanliness and overall condition for the preceding two-week period. Summary ratings are also produced for each fiscal year for comparison purposes.

Go to the Parks Inspection Program page.

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