In Chicago, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail worked for a decade to transform a 2.7-mile elevated railway into a multi-use, linear park and trail that runs through the heart of the city. Opened to bikers, pedestrians and — take that, New Yorkers: DOGS! — on June 6, 2016, the 606 connects the neighborhoods of Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park.
The viaduct traces its roots to the Great Chicago Fire of 1872, after which the City Council granted the Chicago & Pacific Railroad permission to build on Bloomingdale Avenue. In 1893 the council ordered all tracks to be elevated, including the Bloomingdale, which was built between 1913 and 1915. To read more of the history, visit the official website. The name is an homage to Chicago’s neighborhood zip codes, which all begin with 606.
I visited for the first time in January 2017. It was a raw, rainy day, and the park was virtually empty, save this handsome fella who gave me a warm, Midwestern greeting:
One thing I love about this rail park is the presence of trains, something we can only imagine in New York (or watch in videos…). This one, a bona fide Chicago El, rumbled by as I walked along the trail:
My favorite part, though, is the old railroad infrastructure, now bedecked with LED lights, on a bridge crossing Milwaukee Avenue:
Here’s a close-up:
There is domestic architecture, some of it interesting, like the house below. I particularly love its weather vein, a combination of a fish and bumblebee (as always, click a photo to enlarge it):
I publish this update to my original piece about the Bloomingdale Trail with a heavy heart and in memory of my dear pal Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who I went to Chicago to visit during the last days of her life. We had our own journey together when I was her editor on the memoir Enyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I wish we could have walked this trail and many others together.
Thanks to David Schalliol for providing the photo at the top of this piece and this one, which shows the relationship of the abandoned Bloomingdale Trail to the street and neighborhood below.
Grid Chicago: Provides a thorough report on the status of the project