|Length||2.7 mi (4.3 km)|
|Location||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
Bloomingdale Trail highlighted in green
The Bloomingdale Trail is a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) elevated rail trail linear park running east–west on the northwest side of Chicago. It is the longest greenway project of a former elevated rail line in the Western Hemisphere, and the second longest in the world, after the Promenade plantee linear park in Paris. In 2015, the City of Chicago converted the former Bloomingdale railway line to an elevated greenway, which forms the backbone of the 606 trail network. The Bloomingdale Trail elevated park is in the Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and West Town community areas.
The Bloomingdale Line was constructed in 1873 by the Chicago & Pacific Railroad Company as part of the 36-mile (58 km) Elgin subdivision from Halsted Street in Chicago to the suburb of Elgin, Illinois. It was soon absorbed by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway (also known as the Milwaukee Road), first via a 999-year lease in 1880 and later with a fee simple deed conveyance to the same in 1900. It became part of the Soo Line Railroad (a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway), in 1986 when the Soo Line acquired the railroad operations and assets of the Milwaukee Road out of bankruptcy from parent Chicago Milwaukee Corporation (CMC). The City of Chicago purchased the property right-of-way from Canadian Pacific in January 2013.
The rail line was elevated approximately twenty feet in the 1910s as result of a city ordinance aimed at reducing pedestrian fatalities at grade crossings. The line had been a street-running railway within Bloomingdale Avenue, an east–west street running at 1800 north; creating the embankment reduced Bloomingdale Avenue's width in some cases, rendering it an alleyway in some portions. Steel-reinforced concrete embankment walls line the corridor, with 38 viaducts built.
The railway was used for both passenger and freight trains and served several local industrial businesses, including a Schwinn Bicycle Company warehouse. The Bloomingdale Line was primarily used to reach the former Milwaukee Road tracks on the Chicago & Evanston Line (popularly known as the Lakewood Branch and the Kingsbury Branch), the remnant of the Deering Line, and on Goose Island. The Bloomingdale Line connected to the former Milwaukee Road tracks east of the North Branch of the Chicago River at C&E Junction located in the middle of Kingsbury Street and just south of Cortland. The last through freight train operated over the line in 2001. Canadian Pacific then used the Bloomingdale Line to store freight cars as well as when switching nearby Newly Weds Foods up through 2012.
The Bloomingdale Avenue embankment continues west of the trail terminus at Ridgeway Avenue, where it intersects with Metra's commuter tracks of the Milwaukee Road, with northbound North Line trains continuing toward Fox Lake using the CP C&M Subdivision and West Line trains running along the Bloomingdale tracks west to Elgin via the CP Elgin Subdivision. The tracks lower to surface-level on the western outskirts of the city.
The City of Chicago first investigated converting the Bloomingdale Line into a greenway in 1997, but the railway was still in active use. The city and community reintroduced the greenway concept as part of the Logan Square Open Space Plan in 2002–2004." This plan proposed a linear park or greenway with several public access ramps. At the east end, a trailhead would be created at the Chicago River.
A grassroots, non-profit organization, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail (FBT), was formed in 2003 to be the focal point for advocacy and community involvement in the conversion project. FBT partnered with the City and The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit land conservation group, in a collaboration that lead the project management, design, and development.
Collins Engineers, Inc. was selected to provide Phase II design. A groundbreaking ceremony occurred on August 27, 2013, at what would become the Milwaukee Avenue / Leavitt Street connection to the trail.[non-primary source needed]
The corridor is the backbone of the 606 parks and trail network. The numeric name is an homage to the city's ZIP Codes, the prefix for nearly all of which is 606. The trail runs from Ashland Avenue west to North Ridgeway Avenue, parallel to West Bloomingdale Avenue.
In November 2013, the Alphawood Foundation offered a $2 million grant to finance the project. The park officially opened on June 6, 2015. There have been various proposals to connect the trail to the former A. Finkl & Sons Steel property, a 22-acre site in Lincoln Park.
Since the opening of the trail in 2015, the areas around it have experienced gentrification with housing prices increasing 344% from 2012 to 2019 near the western half of the trail. In response, local alderman passed city ordinances prohibiting replacement of multifamily apartment buildings with single-family detached homes without specific zoning approval and imposing fees on developers who do so. Construction of Encuentro Square, an affordable housing development near the west end of the trail, was approved by the city in May 2022. Local advocacy groups incorporated a community land trust which received funding from the state of Illinois.
- Logan Square Open Space Plan[permanent dead link]
- "About FBT". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
- "Bloomingdale Trail". The Trust for Public Land. Archived from the original on 2011-11-30. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
- "Mayor Emanuel Leads Groundbreaking on Bloomingdale Trail". Mayor's Press Office. August 27, 2013.
- Kapos, Shia (November 20, 2013). "Fred Eychaner steps up for Bloomingdale Trail". Crain's Chicago Business.
- "The 606 park to open in June". Chicago Tribune. April 20, 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
- "Alderman's Plan to Extend 606 Trail Faces Numerous Challenges".
- "Developer Buys Finkl Steel Site as Hope to Expand the 606 Takes Root: Chicagoist". Archived from the original on 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
- "Finkl Site Redevelopment". Chicago Tribune.
- "Displacement Pressure in Context: Examining Recent Housing Market Changes Near The 606". DePaul University Institute for Housing Studies. 2020-01-15.
- "New Ordinance Makes It Harder To Turn Apartments Into Single-Family Homes Along 606 And In Pilsen". Block Club Chicago. 2021-01-27.
- "Anti-Gentrification Ordinance Approved, Slapping Developers With Steep Fines For Tearing Down Buildings Near The 606, In Pilsen". Block Club Chicago. 2021-03-24.
- "Encuentro Square to Bring 89 New Affordable Rental Units at the 606 Trail Terminus". City of Chicago Department of Housing. 2022-05-23.
- "Logan Square's Community Land Trust Gets $5 Million Boost From State". Block Club Chicago. 2023-02-14.