Saturday, June 20, 2015

First Visit to The 606

Two of the thousands of visitors stroll the new 606 Trail on its inaugural day, Saturday, June 6, 2015

On its opening day, my son and I visited the 606 Trail, the new path created from the remnants of the old Bloomingdale spur line on the west side of Chicago. The weather could not have been more beautiful and by all accounts, the event which combined performances, art exhibitions, gardening workshops, processions, and thousands of individuals upon their bikes, skateboards, rollerblades or just their feet, came off without a hitch as far as I could tell.

Time constraints prevented us from visiting the entire trail, so we limited ourselves to the western third, from Humboldt Boulevard to the western boundary at Ridgeway Avenue.

Bloomingdale Line Viaduct over Humboldt Boulevard,
one block from the Humboldt Park home where I spent the first ten years of my life. 
Benches at the Humboldt Boulevard Overpass
Street fair, Humboldt Boulevard
Tributes to Pedro AlbĂ­zu Campos, Roberto Clemente and Julia de Burgos
at her eponymous park

Carnival celebration at Julia de Burgos Park

Trail map, this one at Kedzie Avenue

A new perspective on life in the 'hood,
a bird's eye view of dangling shoes from a lamppost. 

Poplar Grove near the western boundary of the trail.

Part of the industrial character of the Bloomingdale Line celebrated by the new 606 Trail

The Exelon Observatory at the western boundary of the trail

Much of the real estate of the 606 Trail is devoted to bike paths, pedestrians are restricted to the blue strips..

Apartment dwellers along 606 will no doubt be drawing their curtains more than they did in the past.

I ran into a friend from work on the trail. He told me that he saw two well-dressed women taking verbal notes of the property adjacent to the trail's western edge, brazenly pointing out which properties they would tear down, which they would spare, and which they would convert to condos. This clearly would confirm the nightmare scenario of the 606 contributing to skyrocketing property values in the neighborhoods surrounding especially the western half of the trail, forcing many longtime residents out of their neighborhood.

Walking around those neighborhoods, it's quite clear that the change has already begun as the re-purposing of old properties mixed with new construction dots the area. The 606 Trail may indeed be a conduit for re-gentrification but more likely it will just hasten the inevitable as the neighborhoods of Humboldt Park are already changing.

Depending upon the way things work out, it remains to be seen if the photographs below will represent soon to be lost Chicago...

Let's hope not, it's the very mixture of cultures that exemplifies the neighborhoods that surround the 606 Trail today, that makes the city such a vital place.

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