Urban Agenda Fact Sheet


Urban Agenda Fact Sheet

  • The NPS 100th anniversary presents opportunities to not only reflect on our past successes but to take actions over the next several years, to prepare for our second century of Stewardship and public engagement. The National Park Service has been part of a larger urban parks movement from the earliest days of the agency's founding in 1916. Today…
    • There are national park units in 40 of the country's 50 most populated metropolitan areas.
    • More than 1/3 of all NPS sites are located in urban areas.
    • 36% of all NPS visitation occurs at our urban sites.
    • NPS federal tax credits for historic preservation have generated more than $66 billion in private investment in historic rehabilitation and created 2.2 million jobs.
    • Approximately 30 of the NPS's 43 programs serve urban communities.

  • The demographics of the U.S. have changed dramatically since the National Park Service was first established. These demographic changes affect how parks are valued, how they are visited, what kinds of development are appropriate, and who will support the parks.
    • In 1916, the nation was 50% urbanized compared to today at over 80%;
    • Today, over half of all newborns in the US are racially diverse;
    • The U.S. demographic changes are not yet reflected in our parks - people of color make up just 18.6% of the NPS workforce and visitors to our national parks consist of primarily non-Hispanic whites.

  • The goal of the Urban Agenda is to activate parks, programs and partnerships as a coherent, aligned system within an urban landscape that will positively impact and enhance the city's economic vitality, historic preservation, natural and cultural resources, outdoor recreation, youth and education opportunities, urban design and sustainability.
  • The NPS has defined an Urban Agenda that will strategically align the resources of the NPS to better serve cities and communities. The Agenda calls all urban park practitioners to embrace three bold principles:
  1. Be Relevant to All Americans- by reaching new audiences and stories that represent our nation's diverse history, by diversifying our workforce to become a true reflection of the American population, and by looking at "parks" in new ways as innovative urban landscapes for new uses;
  2. Activate "ONE NPS"- by aligning NPS parks, programs, and partnerships –the full portfolio;and
  3. Nurture a Culture of Collaboration- by working in collaboration both internally and externally to better serve communities.
  • As part of the Urban Agenda, ten urban areas have been selected to provide illustrative examples and demonstrations for how NPS can apply its full portfolio of resources in strategic ways. A diversity of urban areas, large and small, were chosen to reflect: (1) parks embedded in urban areas, (2) parks adjacent to urban areas, and (3) the presence of NPS program but no physical presence of a park unit.
  • The 10 model cities are: Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; Jacksonville, Florida; New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Richmond, California; Richmond, Virginia; St. Louis, Missouri; Tucson, Arizona; Washington, DC.df
  • Urban Fellows have been placed in each model city. Each Urban Fellow will work with local government to identify priorities related to economic vitality, historic preservation, outdoor recreation, health, connections to youth and educational opportunities, urban design and sustainability, and assist with developing plans to reach those goals.
  • The Urban Matters national network will be re-launched to engage urban park practitioners and partners from across the Service in the implementation of the Urban Agenda.
  • The NPS Urban Agenda aligns closely with Secretary Jewell's ambitious youth initiative, which will engage the next generation of leaders and stewards through recreation, education, volunteerism, and employment. Specifically, by 2017, the Department will convene coalitions in 50 cities across the country to create more opportunities for young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. The 10 NPS model cities in the Urban Agenda are part of this movement, and will play an important role in achieving the Department and NPS goals to engage new audiences.

Last updated: June 15, 2015