The ability of urban parks and public spaces to address distrust and social isolation needs to be rigorously tested, as the predominance of such claims may crowd out discussions of environmental racism and structural inequality. This study tested some commonly stated claims about parks’ influence on social well-being using a survey of residents in St. Louis, Missouri. We tested relationships between park and public space visitation frequency, positive and negative social contact with people of other races/ethnicities, and trust, using structural equation modeling. The model had strong fit but had few significant paths, indicating assertions are not fully supported by our data. Recommendations for urban park planners, managers, and community advocates include improving the design and planning process to accommodate diverse users, as well as modifying their discourse to reflect the growing need for social equity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management