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The Urban Park Rangers: An NYC Legacy

Connecting you to NYC Parks since 1979

In 1979, New York City was struggling with the after-effects of a fiscal crisis and unprecedented increases in crime and drug abuse. Parks back then were in poor condition and considered unsafe to enter at night. To address some of the challenges Parks faced during this time, Parks Commissioner, Gordon J. Davis, created Borough Commissioners and the Urban Park Rangers

Mayor Ed Koch and NYC Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis introduce the first class of Urban Park Rangers in 1979.

Mayor Ed Koch and NYC Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis introduce the first class of Urban Park Rangers in 1979.

Mayor Ed Koch and NYC Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis introduce the first class of Urban Park Rangers in 1979.

An Urban Park Ranger instructs a class on the steps of Belvedere Castle.

Urban Park Ranger Jackie Brown shows young park goers a flowering cherry tree.

Urban Park Ranger and future NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe helps a park goer find their way.

A team of mounted Urban Park Rangers traverse Central Park.

Urban Park Ranger Margot Perron paints children's faces at a public event.

An Urban Park Ranger makes a new furry friend.

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Ambassadors for Parks

Today, nearly 40 Urban Park Rangers continue the mission of the first class of Rangers — fostering life-long connections between New Yorkers and the natural world through environmental education, outdoor recreation, active conservation, and wildlife management.

Urban Park Ranger at Raptor Fest

Our Rangers take pride in their ability to introduce and interpret the natural world to thousands of New Yorkers each year through award-winning adventure programs. Rangers believe connecting New Yorkers to their natural world is the first step in creating a sustainable city for the generations that follow us. 

Students and Teachers of the Natural World & Parks

Urban Park Ranger holding a horseshoe crab

Urban Park Rangers have a strong desire to continue learning and to share that knowledge with park patrons. To make each experience memorable, Rangers are asked to continually expand their knowledge of the natural world and NYC Parks.

Urban Park Rangers facing Fort Greene Park monuments

Our Rangers are provided with regular training and other staff development opportunities, such as perfecting public speaking skills.  

Advocates of Public Service

In the last four decades, Ranger ranks have continued to create ambassadors and advocates for city service, while serving as guides to New Yorkers and tourists on the natural, cultural, and historical gems found in New York City and its 30,000 acres of parkland. 

Forty years later, the legacy of the Urban Park Rangers and their role in New York City's parks have grown. Because of the diversity of the position and the knowledge level and flexibility required to be a successful Ranger, many Rangers from the first class of 1979 have gone on to assume leadership roles not only at Parks but in public service in general. NYC Parks was famously led by a former Ranger for 11 years, when Adrian Benepe, who is now a senior vice-president leading the City Park Development initiative at Trust for Public Land, took the helm as Commissioner in 2002.

Urban Park Ranger holding an eagle

Urban Park Rangers:
Celebrating 40 Years

This year, join us in celebrating the Rangers 40th anniversary at our Ranger-led events and programs. Learn more about our Urban Park Rangers 40th anniversary

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