The opening of the 606, the elevated park that will stretch from Ashland to Ridgeway Avenue, is yet another reason to get impatient for summer. It's arrival now seems like a foregone conclusion, since construction is mostly finished, but it wasn't always so. In 2007, when the idea of transforming the somewhat derelict 2.75-mile Bloomingdale Trail seemed more far-fetched (the city would issue an RFP for the project in November 2008), the Chicago Architectural Club held a speculative design contest, Envisioning the Bloomingdale Line, and exhibited 26 different ideas on how to reimagine the abandoned, post-industrial railway. Eight years later, on the cusp of opening a new park, some of these ideas may seem fantastical, but at the time, these visual aids helped build momentum and make the idea of the 606 more real. Here's a look at nine alternative routes for Chicago's next great green space.
This proposal envisioned turning the trail into an urban cemetery, an economically sustainable way to create enduring park space without encouraging gentrification.
If you're a city looking to burnish your green credentials, you could do a lot worse than this tree conveyor belt, a kind of linear working nursery.
Instead of ripping up the rail line, this proposal would repair it and run a series of custom carts across the city, with functions ranging from mobile homeless shelters to black box theaters.
Not out of the ballpark from what the Bloomingdale would eventually turn into, this plan would pair an elevated fast bike lane with a lower level "slow" garden.
This "rip it up and start again" approach advocated removing the heavy concrete pillars supporting the trail and replace them with a series of elevated bridges and walkways covered in performance platforms, LED screens and vertical gardens, creating a multi-purpose, everyday art walk.
Taking advantage of one of the few east-east arteries in the city, a moving walkway on the the trail could function as a connector between Red and Blue Lines, serving as an exchange point and staging area for travelers. Think of how cool "Sky's The Limit" would look outside.
Like a Brita for Bucktown, this aqueduct lined with wetlands would treat sewer water, plus support a bike lane to boot.
Meant to be a series of agricultural warehouses that simulate growing conditions from other climates, these curvy silos would be a add a plant-like organic addition to the near northwest side skyline.