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Chicago’s 606 offers stunning views atop old train tracks

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A retired freight train line became one of Chicago’s most extraordinary parks

A relic of Chicago’s industrial past, the 606 is the city’s beloved (and first!) elevated park. Build on old freight train tracks that date back more than a century, the park offers a bike path, rubberized jogging track, and outdoor art space with sweeping views of the city.

Although the 606 has only been open for a couple of years, the structure on which it is build dates back to 1873. Known as the Bloomingdale line, the tracks were constructed after the Great Chicago Fire in an effort to rebuild city infrastructure. The line served industrial areas, shuttling trains between factories to deliver and receive goods, such as bicycle parts from the famous 120-year-old Schwinn Bicycle Company.

As these factory-filled neighborhoods became more residential over time, train service on the Bloomingdale line came to an end in the mid 1990s. In 2003, a group of local Chicagoans formed the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail advisory council and began converting the tracks to parkland. Now, almost 15 years later, maintaining the 606 remains a community effort as locals and tourists alike come to make use of this beautiful and unique public space.