The 606 is Chicago's Next Great Park

June 17, 2013

Chicago's next great park is The 606. The Trust for Public Land today announced The 606 as the umbrella name to encompass all elements of this park and trail system planned for Chicago's Northwest Side. The 606-named for the 606 zip code prefix all Chicagoans share—includes the nearly three-mile long elevated Bloomingdale Trail and the five ground-level neighborhood parks which will be linked to it. When complete, it will also feature an observatory, skate park, various art installations and other amenities.

The 606 takes Chicago's legacy of great parks to new heights, creating a 2.7 mile, multi-use recreational trail and park system along an elevated, unused rail line. It runs west to east along Bloomingdale Avenue (1800 N), from Ridgeway Avenue (3750 W) on the west to Ashland Avenue (1600 W) on the east. The 606 serves as both an urban oasis and 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.

"The Bloomingdale Trail and connecting parks will be a distinct and user-friendly open space, and calling the system the 606 will draw an immediate connection between the system and the neighborhoods it serves," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Whether you are a cyclist, runner or student walking to school, the 606 will be a great addition for all Chicagoans and a prime destination for visitors."

The 606 name also evokes a connection to the site's transportation history, a play on the tradition of using numbers to name rail lines, highways and other transportation corridors.

"As the plans for this project took shape, we realized we were building something much bigger than the Bloomingdale Trail, something that needed a bigger name to reflect the full scope of the project," said Beth White, Chicago Area Office Director of The Trust for Public Land. "The 606 is a perfect fit because the project is about connection, on so many levels, and the name reflects the connection residents across Chicago share through our common zip code prefix - 606."

The 606 is a decade in the making, starting with the public meetings initiated by the City's planning department to increase open space in Logan Square, which had the least amount of open space per capita of any Chicago neighborhood. More than half of that land was in the historic boulevards, landscapes designed for beauty and respite, not activity. The City presented the idea of using the elevated Bloomingdale line for a park and it was such a powerful idea that neighbors formed Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail to help make it happen. The concept was included in the Logan Square Open Space Plan, adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in 2004, which prompted the Chicago Department of Transportation to begin applying for federal transportation funding for the project. More than 80,000 families, including almost 25,000 children, live within a ten-minute walk of The 606, as currently planned.

"As community advocates who have dreamed of and worked for this project, we're thrilled to see the gifts of this hidden green skyway unwrapped as The 606 for all Chicagoans to enjoy," said Ben Helphand, President of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail.

The Trust for Public Land is supporting the planning and implementation process, in partnership with the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago. A national conservation organization, The Trust for Public Land's Parks for People initiative has helped to create more than 300 parks in the past four years alone, serving more than five million people across America. This organization developed The 606 name following an interactive process with stakeholder groups, supported by Chicago-based advertising and branding agency Sponge and global strategic branding and design firm Landor Associates. Both firms worked pro bono, as did The 606 logo designer, Jennifer Harrell of Wyville, USA.

Groundbreaking on the upper level of The 606 is scheduled for this summer, and the first phase of the project will open in fall of 2014. Please note: as we move into construction, the upper level and portions of some parks will be closed to the public. Please observe all posted signage and check http//:the606.org for the latest info. And, join us on Facebook and Twitter: the606chicago.

About The 606
The 606 takes Chicago's legacy of great parks to new heights. This Northwest side project is transforming nearly three miles of unused rail line into the elevated Bloomingdale Trail, linked to five ground-level neighborhood parks, as well as various art installations and other amenities. The park and trail system is named for the 606 zip code prefix all Chicagoans share. Set above city streets, it will serve as both an urban oasis and 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. It is yet another Chicago icon that brings together innovative urban planning, green space, and the arts. The 606 will change the way you see our city. For more information visit The606.org.