Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Phil Birge-Liberman

Honors Major

Environmental Science


Biodiversity | Environmental Design | Environmental Health | Environmental Policy | Environmental Public Health | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Geographic Information Sciences | Human Geography | Inequality and Stratification | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Nature and Society Relations | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Outdoor Education | Physical and Environmental Geography | Place and Environment | Public Policy | Race and Ethnicity | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Social Justice | Spatial Science | Sustainability | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


Public parks provide cities with environmental benefits, positive health effects, recreational opportunities, community building, educational spaces, and public amenities. However, certain populations have been systematically denied their fair share of these benefits because of unjust practices in the creation and maintenance of urban parks. With a lens of environmental justice, the goal of this research was to assess park quality and accessibility of two Connecticut cities, Hartford and New Haven, by gathering publicly available information as well as using GIS tools.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has an existing ParkScore rating system that evaluates the quality of a city’s park system; however, the TPL is limited in its scope and does not provide a rating for the two Connecticut cities. With this thesis, we collected data to determine how Hartford and New Haven compare to each other and where they fit relative to the other cities rated by ParkScore. In our discussion, we explored the limitations of the current ParkScore rating system, specifically in regards to equity. This joint-thesis project is an opportunity to observe how two Connecticut cities are performing in terms of park quality and accessibility in the context of American cities and compare them in hopes of getting a better localized understanding of areas of improvement for the two cities. It also allows us to critically evaluate the methods used by ParkScore, which is vital because it’s a tool that many communities use when making city planning decisions and shaping the future of our parks.