The early roots of NRPA lie in the industrial revolution — the birth of manufacturing, cities and rapid urbanization. As open spaces disappeared and people moved into more densely concentrated neighborhoods, it was clear that a lack of green space for play and recreation had detrimental effects on our society. NRPA’s origins can be found in:
- The early 1900s push to create safe spaces for children to play.
- The determination in 1928 that thoughtful design, planning and maintenance of parks and recreation facilities is a “community duty”.
- The recognition in the 1940s and ‘50s that recreation provides important therapeutic benefit.
On August 14, 1965, five founding organizations merged to create the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) — the National Recreation Association (NRA), American Institute of Park Executives (AIPE), American Recreation Society (ARS), the National Conference on State Parks (NCSP), and the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (an affiliate of AIPE). These founders, who fostered our country’s early park movements, set out to accomplish goals that we carry on today. These include fostering excellence in parks and recreation, engaging communities, cultivating public demand for high quality parks and recreation, and elevating the role of our field.
The world has changed since the beginning of NRPA’s story, but one thing has remained ever true, parks and recreation are essential to healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves a great park. And great parks depend on our community heroes – park and recreation professionals.