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The Story

How do you design an urban oasis for the more than 80,000 neighbors, including almost 20,000 children, that live within a ten-minute walk? Turn a physical barrier into a community connector? Transform a piece of Chicago’s industrial past into an alternative transportation corridor and living work of art for our city’s future?

The 606 is a decade in the making.

As train traffic slowed on the Bloomingdale Line in the 1990s, attention turned to how the train line might be used to increase much-needed green space. The City of Chicago brought residents together to discuss an area of particular concern – Logan Square, a neighborhood that, at the time, had the least amount of open space per capita of any in Chicago.

Despite the neighborhood’s historic boulevards, Logan Square needed an additional 99 acres of active open space just to be brought up to City minimums. The City’s proposal to convert the Bloomingdale Line to a park was included in the Logan Square Open Space Plan, which prompted the Chicago Department of Transportation to begin applying for federal transportation funding for the project.

The City’s proposal prompted neighbors to form Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, an organization whose vision and mission were key to creating The 606. The group created a groundswell of community support not just in Logan Square, but in the other neighborhoods surrounding the rail line: Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. Knowing the Trust for Public Land’s work creating Haas Park in Logan Square, members of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail reached out to the national non-profit, which helped bring together a coalition of city and civic organizations to move the project forward. The alliance of the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, The Trust for Public Land, and dozens of groups is turning the idea for a trail into a park and trail system to connect four Chicago neighborhoods and create innovative park space for thousands of residents and visitors alike.

Using its expertise in land conservation, creating urban parks and community collaboration, The Trust for Public Land hosted numerous community meetings, including a three-day design charrette in 2011. Community input into design and function has been a hallmark of The 606 process. Numerous public meetings brought community input into the design, function, and aesthetics of the parks, trail, and event spaces that will be The 606. That process culminated in an unveiling of the final design plans and overarching project name in June of 2013.

The park and trail system is also the signature project of Mayor Emanuel and his push to create 800 new parks, recreation areas and green spaces throughout Chicago over the next five years. The City of Chicago and The Chicago Park District, and The Trust for Public Land have provided the financial, cooperative, and logistical strength to move this public-private partnership from a dream into reality.

The 606 brings together arts, history, design, trails for bikers, runners, and walkers, event spaces, alternative transportation avenues, and green, open space for neighbors, Chicagoans, and the world. We look forward to sharing The 606 with you and your family when the project officially opens.

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