I rode my bike over to the new 606 trail yesterday with a friend. It’s a hugely popular new elevated park, on the site of a disused rail line. It’s similar in concept to New York City’s Highline, but a different animal. The 606 is twice as long (just over three miles), allows bicyclists, and is located in a part of the city that’s a lot less dense. That means most views from the 606, while pleasant, lack the spectacular punch of views from the Highline. You see a lot of different residential real estate (some of which looks brand new—as if built or rehabbed to leverage a potential gentrification boom around the 606’s popularity) so it feels more neighborhood-y, which is appropriate to the kind of city Chicago is.
On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, the trail was heavily used by strollers, loungers, bicyclists, joggers, speed walkers, and school kids. Part of the vision for the 606 is to connect to different parks on Chicago’s West Side, and it looked likely that the school group was using it for that purpose. The new park works a more beautiful way to commute between Bucktown and the far West side and as a beautiful (and perhaps delicious) way to explore a different part of town, if you’re not from there.
During both my visits to the 606, I ate with companions at 90 Miles Cuban Café, which is just north of the trail on Armitage Avenue at Rockwell in Logan Square. So it’s a great resource for neighborhood residents and also offers potential for turning these West Side neighborhoods into destinations.
The plantings along the trail are still in process, and will doubtless take some years to really come into their own, but even now the greenery creates a tranquil environment, and the several seating areas and short parallel trails (some with soft walking surfaces, surrounded by more heavily planted areas) make the trail even more parklike. As parks continue to be developed near its access points, the 606 will be an even more attractive greenspace.