If you’ve seen New York City’s celebrated High Line, you might expect Chicago’s long-awaited 606 (and its elevated portion, the Bloomingdale Trail) to look similar. After all, they’re both elevated rail beds converted into green pathways. But while the High Line allows only walkers, the 606 welcomes cyclists, runners, and leashed dogs too. And while each section of the High Line opened only when perfectly landscaped, all 2.7 miles of the 606 will open this Saturday, even though many of its gardens and other planned elements are not yet installed.
A spokesperson from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, which is working with the city to develop the site, declined to estimate when the 606 will be finished. (Given that the necessary funds have not yet been raised, it could take years.) What you’ll see starting this weekend is an interesting mix, a place where fledgling plants bump up against gritty remnants of Chicago’s industrial past.
Read more about the 606 and its history.
Everything You Need to Know About the 606
1600 West This ground-level park, with a dog run and baseball field, is the largest to abut the trail. Here the 606’s creators plan to build a “wheel-friendly event plaza”: a skate park where wheelchairs and bikes can whiz along with the skateboards. (Not every neighbor is pleased.)
Damen Arts Plaza
2000 West This open space on the trail level will accommodate still more art. The first piece, due in late July, will be a sculpture by New York artist Chakaia Booker (it will remain there until next summer). From here, a ramp leads down to leafy Churchill Park. Once you reach the ground, look back at the trail wall. You’ll see three painted panels by local artist Louis DeMarco, who is part of Project Onward, a nonprofit that works with artists who have mental and developmental disabilities.
2200 West Limestone boulders, arborvitae trees, and sugar maples lead you from this ground-level park up to the trail. Overlooking the scene is a billboard repurposed to show art. Currently on view: a print by Chicago artist Kay Rosen, known for her graphic use of typefaces.
2550 to 2500 West As hundreds of fern-like sumac saplings grow, their branches will eventually arch over the trail. Landscape architect Matthew Urbanski wants you to witness this process: The living installation, he says, “is about the passing of time.”
3000 West Pause to rest on wooden stadium-style seating and take in the vista. Before you lies Humboldt Boulevard, designed by noted architect William LeBaron Jenney. Part of a national historic district, it’s lined with trees and stately century-old houses.
Julia de Burgos Park
3100 to 3050 West Currently being expanded to join the trail, this romantic park includes a “poetry garden” with flowering plants (viburnum, magnolia). Still to come: a space for poetry readings, a fitting tribute to the Puerto Rican poet for whom the park was named.
3400 West A picnic lawn, kids’ play space, and “learning garden” on a ground-level park that slopes up to meet the trail—Cool! When it’s finished, that is. Right now, you’ll see only a “graffiti garden” designed by local artists on the trail’s outer walls.
3550 to 3500 West If you make a beeline to this grove on a scorching day this summer, you may be disappointed: Though more than 700 poplars have been planted here, it will be years before most are tall enough to cast much shade.
3750 West Working with the Adler Planetarium, artist Frances Whitehead designed a structure—built atop a manmade hill with a spiraling ramp—that resembles an ancient solar observatory (and works like one too). Planned but unbuilt: a park surrounding it.