Chicago’s 606

Amenity success

Chicago's 606 - people stopping along the trail

Image credit: Adam Alexander, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

The 606’s major success lies in its popularity as a local amenity. Between 2016 and 2019, The 606 has attracted between 1.2 and 1.3 million visitors every year, primarily families, joggers, walkers and commuters. Most people who use the trail live near it. This is largely down to location and context, as The 606 runs through highly residential neighbourhoods. Design unarguably also plays an important role, as the elevated park provides amenities for commuters and recreational users alike. While accessibility is facilitated by the low height of the structure, it was further enhanced with good ground-level integration through six ‘spill over’ parks created alongside access points or through refurbishment of pre-existing open spaces.

With formerly industrial land located between the current eastern boundary of The 606 and the Chicago River being considered for residential development, opportunities for extending the linear park and trail eastwards are under discussion. The developer who owns most of the land involved has bought into the idea and incorporated it in its proposed masterplan. Serious obstacles will have to be overcome for The 606 extension to come to life, including physical ones. An expressway and a set of active rail tracks currently separate the east end of The 606 and the potential development site. Should it happen, this extension would allow The 606 to connect to the Chicago River path. Such a connection would create a continuous car free route to from Chicago’s North West side to the central business district and greatly enhance access to the riparian landscape restoration that has been the focus of the City’s open space planning work for many years.