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.

Find Out More

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 visit our park pages to browse a map and get directions to the park. Currently, we do not have directions to specific features in larger parks available on our website.

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.

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.

Find Out More

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.

How can I obtain a tennis permit?

Please visit the Tennis Permits Purchase and Renewal page to purchase a tennis permit online, or visit a Tennis Permit Office near you to renew in person. You will need to bring a check, money order, or credit card; proof of age for Senior and Junior Permits; and photo ID.

How long is a tennis permit good for?

A tennis permit is good for the entire tennis season, which lasts from the first Sunday of April to the Sunday before Thanksgiving. 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.

Find Out More

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 Media & Entertainment, (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' 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.

Find Out More

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.

In addition to information included on our website, we have 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 Recreation Centers 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, or information about how to become a member. New York City residents can also dial 311, and non-residents can call (212) NEW-YORK for more information.

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 an IDNYC, a Driver's 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 Recreation Centers 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.
  • Young adults, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities can become a member for 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. You may walk or jog in a park, swim for free at our outdoor pools or beaches, bike our greenways, or take a free Shape Up NYC fitness class.

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 or hover on the "Play" 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 join a swim program, or become a City lifeguard!

Find Out More

What are the rules for using Parks swimming pools?

Parks' 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. Visit our Outdoor Pools page to find out what you need to know before you go.

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. For more about the wildlife we encounter, visit WildlifeNYC.

Find Out More

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. You can also report a wildlife sighting to WildlifeNYC.

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 Animals, Bugs, and Pests Page

Building Parks

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

Find Out More

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.

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. 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 request a forestry service, or visit our NYC Street Tree Map to find out more about your tree.

Joining Parks

Although NYC Parks is a City agency, keeping more than 30,000 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.

Find Out More

How do I join a community garden?

Looking to get involved in a community garden? The best way to find a garden is to walk around your community and talk to gardeners. You can visit our Join a Garden page for more on how to get involved. You can also visit our Garden map to find gardens near you.

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 submitting a service request through 311.

Find Out More

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

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.
Visit the Parks Inspection Program page for more information.


Was this information helpful?