Humboldt Park festival to celebrate opening of 606 trail

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Aerial view of the Bloomingdale Trail at Milwaukee Leavitt (including new access park in background). Photo courtesy of www.the606.org.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 606 park and trail system on Chicago’s northwest side will open June 6. The opening day events will feature a series of lively and fun processions all day long at different points along the trail, as well as a street-level festival beneath the Bloomingdale Trail on Humboldt Boulevard.

Stretching between Ashland Avenue and Ridgeway at Bloomingdale Avenue, The 606 will a unique park consisting of the elevated Bloomingdale Trail, connected to ground-level neighborhood parks, four of which will open alongside the trail on June 6. When complete, the park and trail system will include six ground-level parks, a wheel-friendly event plaza, an observatory, art installations, educational programming, and other amenities. The 606 will also serve as 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 and elevated trail system.

“The 606 is a transformative project that will turn an old railroad embankment into a recreational trail and park system on the northwest side, a major investment in green space that will benefit neighborhood residents and people throughout Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Through projects large and small, we are on track to make Chicago the first city to ensure that every child lives within a 10 minute walk to a park or playground.”

The 606 is more than a decade in the making. The concept to turn an unused rail line into an elevated trail was officially called for in the City’s 2004 Logan Square Open Space Plan to add additional green space to one of the city’s most park-poor neighborhoods. Community support led to the creation of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, which advocated for the transformation of the unused space. The project was accelerated by Mayor Emanuel, and broke ground in August 2013. A true public-private partnership, The 606 is being funded via a mix of federal and local funding, with nearly half of the project costs coming from private donations under the leadership of The Trust for Public Land.

The Cook County Department of Highways and Transportation contributed $2 Million to replace bridge spans for the 606 over Western and Ashland.

“Opening the first phase of The 606 will be a celebration of the power of imagination, community passion, perseverance, and leadership.” said Beth White, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Chicago Region Office, which serves as project manager on behalf of the Chicago Park District. “For the four communities connected by the project, and all Chicagoans, opening The 606 is cause for celebration. Community input has been integral to every aspect of this project, and we hope everyone will join us in creating an opening celebration that captures the transformative power of parks and open spaces.”

After opening, The 606 will follow typical Chicago Park District hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The project is close to several stops on the CTA Blue Line, numerous bus routes, as well as the Clybourn stop on the Metra Milwaukee District/North (MD-N). Public transportation is encouraged to visit The 606, especially for those attending opening day celebrations.

For more information on the project and the opening day festivities, please visit The606.org.

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