Chicago’s 606 is one of the city’s latest urban innovation projects that involved the reinvention of an old freight line into a 2.7-mile recreational trail and park system. It runs through the neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Bucktown, Logan Square and Wicker Park. The trail goes beyond just serving as a recreational area; it integrates art and science, pleasure and provocation. The 606 is one of 800 new parks, recreation areas and green spaces Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s strives to implant in the city.
- What role does this urban innovation project have for the city’s sustainable developmental goals?
The 606 revitalized an abandoned, gritty area into something sustainable. It “…repurpose[s] an unused elevated rail line and sustain[s] the land with as little waste as possible”. Also, numerous parks make up the project. Rahm Emanuel’s sustainability plan was to create 800 new parks and recreational areas and the addition of this magnificent trail is aiding the process of achieving that goal.
2. What are the project’s sustainability outcomes and what methods/plans are they implementing to make the project a success?
So far, the trail has been a huge hit for residents near who live near the area. They plan on putting directions up online to guide the users of the trail (nearby bathrooms and parking) since this seems to be one of the only flaws. Sustainability wise, it converted a useless, filthy, unhealthy (to humans and the Earth) environment into a useful, beautiful and healthy area.
3. How does the project address all 5 factors for sustainable development (Environment, economics, social equity, energy and health)?
It achieves environmental for incorporating green space (200 plant species, 1,400 trees, 37 bridges, etc). It achieves social equity because it attracts and brings together not just kids but adults and seniors alike. It gives them a place to interact with others around them and also nature. Health wise, it is a fantastic place to go for a run or walk and could serve as “Park Prescription” (see link below). The lead designer of The 606, Frances Whitehead, says the project incorporates “ four ‘pillars’ or criteria that constitute the emerging global sustainability model, adding ‘culture’ to the original ‘triple bottom line’ of ‘social, economic, environmental’ pillars”.