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Photos: The 606 Is Absolutely Beautiful In Autumn

By Kate Shepherd in News on Nov 6, 2015 7:45PM

It's the first fall for The 606—that groundbreaking, 2.7-mile rails-to-trails project better known as the Bloomingdale Trail—and people have been flocking to the West Side to enjoy the last few beautiful, warm days of 2015.

From new art to the changing plants, there's plenty to see while you're up there.

New site-specific art keeps being added to the trail. There's a contemporary sculpture by renowned artist Chakaia Booker, installed in October, called Brick House 2015. It's a very distinct 10 1/2′ x 26′ x 13′ sculpture made of rubber tires, rubber, and stainless steel. And make sure you see the artwork by Marwen student artists in collaboration with artist Marta Garcia. There's also the "Children are Our Future" mural, dedicated in September, created by artists John Pitman Weber, Cathy Cajandig and local youth from the Youth Service Project.

This is all in addition to the temporary art installations that have been at the 606 since it opened this summer. Those works were selected through an invitational process and new works will be selected and installed on a rotating basis.

The leaves are turning and falling, and thousands of plants are growing on the once-abandoned elevated rail line. Crews are currently planting 56,000 bulbs, including daffodils, alliums, crocuses, snowdrops and more, along the trail. Most of perennial and grass planting along the Bloomingdale Trail and in the parks has been completed. Fences have been put around areas with finished plantings to allow the plants to establish. The irrigation system will be shut off and pumped out for the season soon.

Whether we're looking for a quick bike route across town or a peaceful afternoon walk in the sun, The 606 has become our favorite new destination between Humboldt Park and home. But some urbanists with national platforms—most recently, ex-Chicagoan Aaron Renn—have been criticizing The 606 for not living up to the reputation of its tony cousin, New York City's High Line, since it opened last June. Thankfully, local transportation writer John Greenfield took to Streetsblog Chicago to set the record straight: The 606 isn't the high line, he writes, but "it's better."

While the Bloomingdale may never be the tourist attraction that the High Line is, it certainly draws people from many different parts of Chicago, and it beats the NYC facility in three different departments. It’s nearly twice as long as the 1.45-mile Manhattan path. Unlike the High Line, you can bike on the Bloomingdale, and it provides direct access to many public schools, so it functions as a very useful transportation link.

Thirdly, The 606 is more democratic. The High Line runs through some of the nation’s priciest real estate and, during the three times I’ve visited it, the crowd seemed to be pretty homogenous.

In contrast, the Bloomingdale connects neighborhoods that are - at least for now - economically and ethnically diverse, including parts of Chicago that sorely needed more green space and recreational opportunities. As such, it benefits a much wider demographic. On summer evenings, it’s common to see entire working-class families, including grandparents and little kids, out strolling on The 606. That’s a sight you probably won’t come across in Chelsea.

We couldn't have said it better.