The 606 is an elevated paradise

It started with a fire.

After the Great Chicago Fire, the city gave the Chicago and Pacific Railway permission to lay a railroad down Bloomington Avenue. This would help bring goods and services to rebuild the city and make connections from other railways and the Chicago River to support the city's industrial and commercial boom.

After several serious accidents, the city ordered all rail crossings to be elevated. Bloomington's crossings were the last to be elevated. The construction lasted between 1910 and 1913.


The Ashland Avenue entrance to the 606. (P.B. Bella)

In the early 1990's the railway became defunct. In the late 90's, what was then known as the Bloomington Trail was included in Chicago's Bike Plan. This eventually evolved into the 606 with the help of community leaders and the Trust for Public Land, a non-profit group.

The 606 is a public private partnership. According to the 606 website, the total estimate for the project is $95 million dollars. $76 million dollars has been raised so far. $20 million dollars of those funds were private donations ranging from $1 dollar to $5 million dollars.

The 606 officially opened on June 6th of this year with great fanfare. The 606 is 2.7 miles long, stretching from Ashland Avenue to Hamilin Avenue. It links four neighborhoods, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park.

There are exits along the trail to the neighborhoods and adjacent parks. The trail was designed for walkers, runners, and bicyclists. The plan is to integrate arts and other recreation along the trail.

According to DNAinfo/Chicago, some local residents are complaining about quality of life issues impacting them since the trail opened.

"Since the 606 opened, there are a lot more people in the neighborhood that we don't know, lots of them," said Sandy Johnson, the volunteer CAPS facilitator and a longtime Bucktown resident who lives near the 2.7-mile long Bloomingdale Trail's eastern end." (DNA/info)

Ms. Johnson apparently believes her neighborhood is a suburban private restricted gated oasis protected from the unwashed masses. Only people "We know" should be allowed. Evidently Ms. Johnson did not get the memo, the 606 is open to all Chicagoans, not just people "We know".

With any new benefit to the people, there will be whiners and complainers along with irresponsible people who cause a few problems. The problems can be mitigated by enforcement of closing times and other ordinances. The whiners and complainers, well, what can you do?

The 606 is a great investment for Chicago. It is a prime example of taking unused space and turning it in to something useful. When it is finally completed it will be a beautiful and functional addition to the city.

Chicago's greatness comes from the creativity of its people. Throughout the city's history people from all walks of life made contributions of time, effort, and money to make Chicago a vital and beautiful city. The 606 is the latest example of this history.

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