A new name may bring new meaning for Chicago’s hotly anticipated elevated park, the Bloomingdale Trail. The trail portion will continue to be known as “Bloomingdale Trail” but the new name for the trail combined with its five access parks is “The 606,” taken from the first three digits of most Chicago ZIP codes. People expressed disapproval online and at the last community meeting, but when brand consultants likened it to “Millennium Park” and its constituent features, the new strategy made sense.
Final designs for The 606—which runs 2.7 miles through Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and Bucktown—were presented in June and showed features not previously seen. The park, which has undergone an intense public planning processes galvanized by sometimes-fiery neighborhood support and collaboration, will provide more open space in communities that are still rated as having the lowest amount per person in the city.
More than 100 people gathered in the YMCA at the Ridgeway Avenue access point (the western terminus) to hear about the name change and see the latest concepts. The drawings showed a wheel-friendly hardscape (skate park) at Walsh Park, which will also have a performance stage with audio controlled from a concrete pipe-shaped kiosk. The Ridgeway access point was pictured with a built-up mound topped with a natural observatory that, when seen through special notches, lines up with the equinoxes and solstices. The same hill gives people a good view of frequent, passing commuter trains.
Construction at the Park 567 access point, where the viaduct crosses Milwaukee Avenue, has already begun. Crews laid block boulders and a concrete path in a plot that used to be a grassy area where people played Frisbee and ran their dogs. The path will connect to a winding, accessible incline up to the trail.
Major construction work will begin in August and the trail is scheduled to open on September 2014. Streets will be periodically closed and the railroad girder bridge over Ashland Avenue, one of 37 crossings, will be moved one mile to span Western Avenue.
As presented, the 606 has a price tag of $91 million. More than half has already been raised. The majority has come from federal air quality and congestion reduction funds (because of the trail component) and the remainder from park district and city funds, as well as private donations. The Trust for Public Land will lead fundraising for the last $38 million.