Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Christopher G. Boone; Geoffrey L. Buckley; J. Morgan Grove; Chona Sister
    Date: 2009
    Source: Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 99(4): 767-787.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.53 MB)


    This article examines the distribution of parks in Baltimore, Maryland, as an environmental justice issue. In addition to established methods for measuring distribution of and access to parks, we employ a novel park service area approach that uses Thiessen polygons and dasymetric reapportioning of census data to measure potential park congestion as an equity outcome measure. We find that a higher proportion of African Americans have access to parks within walking distance, defined as 400 meters or less, than whites, but whites have access to more acreage of parks within walking distance than blacks. A needs-based assessment shows that areas with the highest need have the best access to parks but also have access to less acreage of parks compared to low-need areas. Park service areas that are predominantly black have higher park congestion than areas that are predominantly white, although differences are less apparent at the city level than at the metropolitan level. Following Iris Young and others, we argue that conceptions of justice must move beyond distributive justice and address the social and institutional mechanisms that generate inequities. For Baltimore, we examine how segregation ordinances, racial covenants, improvement associations, the Home Owners Loan Corporation, and the Parks and Recreation Board created separate black spaces historically underserved with parks. These mechanisms ultimately fueled middle-class flight and suburbanization and black inheritance of much of Baltimore’s space, including its parks. If justice demands just distribution justly achieved, the present-day pattern of parks in Baltimore should be interpreted as environmental injustice.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Boone, Christopher G.; Buckley, Geoffrey L.; Grove, J. Morgan; Sister, Chona. 2009. Parks and people: An environmental justice inquiry in Baltimore, Maryland. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 99(4): 767-787.


    Baltimore, environmental justice, parks, segregation

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page