The 606 was 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 meet the City’s minimum standard. The City’s proposal to convert the Bloomingdale Line to a park was included in the 2004 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 also 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. Friends of Bloomingdale Trail was familiar with The Trust for Public Land through their work on expanding Haas Park in Logan Square, and reached out to the national non-profit to help bring together a coalition of city and civic organizations to move the rail project forward. The alliance among the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, The Trust for Public Land, and dozens of groups generated the idea for a park and trail system that would connect four Chicago neighborhoods and create innovative park space that would serve both residents and visitors.
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 was a hallmark of The 606 process. Numerous public meetings ensured community input into the park and trail system’s design, function, and aesthetics of the parks, trail, and event spaces. 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. The City of Chicago, The Chicago Park District, and The Trust for Public Land provided the financial, 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.