With all the enthusiasm surrounding the official start of Bloomingdale Trail construction earlier this summer (and the tepid reaction to its rebranding as The 606), Curbed thought it time to pay the freight relic a visit. The city acquired the obsolete 2.7-mile structure slicing through Bucktown, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park in June for $1.
Since then construction has wrapped on the first of five access parks, at Milwaukee Avenue. It's a free-flowing parkette with circular boulder seating, a grassy mound, and adolescent plantings. Unlike the themed spaces that factor into the reconstruction of Walsh Park and those already existing at Churchill Field Park, this access point is meant as a place to relax or gather for the launch of a tour. Actually, it has already proven itself a prime staging ground for unauthorized expeditions along the old CP Rail right-of-way. We took one ourselves and were pleased to find joggers, a couple of bikers, and small bands of locals feeding their curiosity, mostly on the mile stretch between Western and Ashland. As the lack of any evidence of pending reconstruction become evident we began to wonder about the city's plan of attack.
The Milwaukee access park is a good way to kick off Stage One construction given its centrality, but the city needs to get cracking on the other seven access points, bridge repairs, waterproofing, the rebuilding of the rail bed's topography, and creation of the full multi-modal recreation trail promised by fall 2014. Other elements—a range of commissioned art (replacing the murals that cling to lead paint), programs, and complete landscaping—will roll in more gradually. Haven't been up yet? Get your fix before the city seals the trail off for heavy duty work.
·Bloomingdale Trail and Park Framework Plan (PDF) [official]
·First Look at Bloomingdale Trail Phase One Designs [Curbed Chicago]
·Bloomingdale Trail Coverage [Curbed Chicago]