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Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined today by Senator Dick Durbin, officials from The Trust for Public Land, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Transportation to cut the ribbon and open The 606 park and trail system on Chicago’s northwest side. The event kicked off a weekend of festivities to celebrate the opening, including arts, performances, and community celebrations along the 2.7 miles of the Bloomingdale Trail, the centerpiece of the project.
“The 606 is a transformative project that has turned an old railroad embankment into a recreational trail and park system on the northwest side, a major investment in green space that will benefit neighborhood residents and people throughout Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Through projects large and small, we are on track to make Chicago the first city to ensure that every child lives within a 10 minute walk to a park or playground.”
Stretching between Ashland Ave (1600W) and Ridgeway (3750W) at Bloomingdale Ave (1800N), the park consists of the elevated Bloomingdale Trail, connected to ground-level neighborhood parks, four of which opened alongside the trail. Minor work and planting along the trail will continue through this summer and fall. When complete, the park and trail system will include six ground-level parks, a wheel-friendly event plaza, an observatory, various art installations, educational programming, and other amenities. The 606 will also serve as a community connector for the Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, turning the physical barrier of old railroad embankments into a unifying park and elevated trail system.
The 606 park and trail system will provide an urban oasis for the 80,000 people, including 20,000 children, who live within a ten-minute walk of the park system. It is also planned as a resource for Chicagoans citywide, a transportation alternative as well as a tourist attraction which is already garnering attention nationally and internationally.
“The 606 Park and Trail System is the latest in a long line of world-class public spaces in Chicago and I am happy to see it come to fruition,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “Through a combination of federal, local and private funding, this project connects the vibrant neighborhoods along Chicago’s West Side and create a unique park space for residents and visitors alike. The 606 not only encourages exercise and family activity, but provides a safe, environmentally friendly means of transportation. I hope this can serve as a model to the country of what can be accomplished when federal and local governments partner with the private sector. I congratulate Mayor Emanuel and all who have worked so hard to make this day happen.”
The 606 is more than a decade in the making. The concept to turn an unused rail line into an elevated trail was officially called for in the City’s 2004 Logan Square Open Space Plan to add additional green space to one of the city’s most park-poor neighborhoods. Community support led to the creation of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, which advocated for the transformation of the unused space. The project was accelerated by Mayor Emanuel, and broke ground in August 2013. A true public-private partnership, The 606 is being funded via a mix of federal and local funding, with nearly half of the project costs coming from private donations under the leadership of The Trust for Public Land.
“It has been a tremendous honor for CDOT to work on the planning and construction of the Bloomingdale Trail. The entire team has worked tirelessly, even pushing through two harsh winters, to bring this project to fruition in time for today’s opening,” Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “This is a one-of-a-kind, legacy project that illustrates Mayor Emanuel’s vision of a Chicago that embraces its history and is also committed to making the smart investments that will enable our city to thrive.”
Following the official ribbon cutting, there will be numerous processions and hands-on family activities in the parks. A street festival will take place below the trail at Humboldt Boulevard, with two stages, live music, and SummerDance lessons between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. In the evening, an illuminated procession will close out the day’s activities. Neighborhood residents are invited to return to the Western Trailhead the next morning for a pancake breakfast between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. While spectators are welcome, everyone is encouraged to participate in the mix of processions, hosted activities, and more.
“Opening the first phase of The 606 is a celebration of the power of imagination, community passion, perseverance, and leadership.” said Beth White, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Chicago Region Office, which serves as project manager on behalf of the Chicago Park District. “For the four communities connected by the project, and all Chicagoans, opening The 606 is cause for celebration. Community input has been integral to every aspect of this project, and we hope everyone will join us in creating an opening celebration that captures the transformative power of parks and open spaces.”
“This innovative and unique trail will not only serve the neighborhoods it touches, but offers the opportunity for other residents and visitors to explore the diverse and culturally rich communities that surround it,” said Michael Kelly, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO. “The legacy of the former Bloomingdale Trail rail line continues today with its reinvention, as a multiple-purpose trail encouraging fitness and recreation.”
After opening, The 606 will follow typical Chicago Park District hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The project is close to several stops on the CTA Blue Line, numerous bus routes, as well as the Clybourn stop on the Metra Milwaukee District/North (MD-N). Public transportation is encouraged to visit The 606, especially for those attending opening day celebrations. For more information on the project and the opening day festivities, please visit http://The606.org.
About The 606
Opening June 6, 2015, The 606 takes Chicago’s legacy of great parks to new heights. The 606 has the elevated 2.7-mile Bloomingdale Trail as its centerpiece, connected to six neighborhood parks at ground level, a wheel-friendly event plaza, an observatory, art installations, educational programming, and other amenities. Set above city streets, it’s a new way to explore Chicago on trails for biking, running and strolling. The 606 also connects parks, people, and communities; what once physically separated four neighborhoods now will knit them together and attract visitors from throughout Chicago and beyond. Imagine block after block of uninterrupted trails. Kids will learn to ride their bikes up here, commuters will find a new shortcut to work, and neighbors will make new friends. The 606 will change what it means to go to the park. The 606 runs along Bloomingdale Avenue (1800N) on Chicago’s northwest side, and is a partnership between the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and not-for-profit The Trust for Public Land. For more information visit The606.org (http://The606.org).
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at tpl.org.