Bloomingdale Trail’s New Name Revealed as Construction Begins at Park 567

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Construction at Park 567, a future Bloomingdale Trail access park at Milwaukee and Leavitt.

At a community meeting Tuesday night at the McCormick-Tribune YMCA, planners discussed the final designs, construction schedule, and new name for the trail and “linear park” formerly known as the Bloomingdale. The newly coined appellation “The 606” is an umbrella term referring to the trail as well as five adjacent parks that will serve as access points.

 rBloomingdale Trail meeting
Matt Gordon, of the branding team, showing the relationship between "The 606" and the Bloomingdale Trail.

The marketing firm Marj Halperin Consulting came up with the new name pro bono. Ms. Halperin told the crowd of over 100 people that while the Bloomingdale is well know by those who live nearby, there were issues with the name when it came to discussing the project with potential donors and sponsors. There was the potential for confusion about whether the trail was related to Bloomingdale’s department store, the suburb of Bloomingdale, or even Bloomington, Illinois. However, the trail itself will still be known by its old name. “The Bloomingdale Trail is still the Bloomingdale Trail,” Halperin said.

Matt Gordon of Landor Associates clarified how the term “The 606” will be used, showing an image of a wayfinding sign and map for Millennium Park modified so that the park’s name is listed as “The 606” and arrows point to amenities like “The Bloomingdale Trail” and a skate park.

Johnny Morcos, an engineer overseeing the project for the Chicago Department of Transportation, discussed the construction schedule. The general contractor, megafirm Walsh Construction, will submit a draft schedule in August showing exactly when bridges will be modified and streets will be closed.

Bridge construction will take place in two stages, Morcos said. Stage 1, rebuilding 19 of the 38 bridges, will begin in September. Stage 2 will begin in February 2014. All bridges will be completed by June 1 of next year. The railroad bridge girders over Ashland Avenue will be relocated and used to build a new bridge over Western Avenue. All other construction, including parks, access points, landscaping, and the trail itself, will begin in August of this year and finish by September 15, 2014.

Bloomingdale Trail meeting
Plans for the Bloomingdale Trail at Churchill Park and Damen Avenue.

Construction of Park 567, at Milwaukee and Leavitt avenues in Wicker Park, began this week. As recently as two years ago, a building occupied the land. The building was demolished, the contaminated soil was cleaned and sodded. The spot became a de facto dog run and a place to throw a Frisbee. Now, a construction crew has removed all the sod and has started laying boulders (part of the “layered landscape, bedrock geology” theme for the park) and concrete framing for the curving sidewalk that will lead people up a ramp to the trail.

Walsh Park, located south of the trail between Ashland and Marshfield avenues, will get a concrete skate park (bicycles and wheelchairs will be allowed) and an amphitheater. Grassy space on the trail at Churchill Park currently fenced off and used by a residential building will be returned to the public for an arts plaza with annually rotating exhibitions. The western trailhead at Ridgeway will feature a spiral-shaped, wheelchair-accessible earthen mound with an observatory and railroad overlook.

Ridgeway
Rendering of the park at Ridgeway, the western trailhead. ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/tags/the606/##View additional renderings and photos##.
  • Anonymous

    Whatever it’s called, it will be great. Have to wonder, though, how long before the first kid changes the 0 to a 6 on signage? :)

  • Yeah, with all their concerns about people confusing “The Bloomingdale” with other places and entities, they don’t seem too worried about the fact that many, many people are going to refer to this as “The 666.”

  • BlueFairlane

    To be clear, I think the trail will be really cool, and I really want to see how that observatory turns out. But the name is about the dumbest thing anybody possibly could have come up with. “Bloomingdale” might call to mind other entities like a department store for some, but you don’t solve that problem with a collection of numbers. There’s nothing distinctive about numbers, and any geographical significance these numbers may once have held has been erased by the last decade of technology. I couldn’t tell you what boundary the 606 code once held. I live about a 10 minute walk from the Blooingdale Trail, and my cell phone area code has always been 773.

    I’m glad the consultants came up with the numbers for free. I suspect they did it while drinking a bottle of 312, and I’d hate to think somebody would pay for that.

  • 606xx is the ZIP code prefix for a majority of Chicagoans. I didn’t care to devote much attention to the name change (to explain its origin) in this post because I think plenty of other publications devoted sufficient attention.

    What I’ve been told is that the numbers were squished together, and the 0 made larger than the two 6s so that the result of someone adding a “leg” to the 0 to turn it into a 6 will make it look funny, and not as if someone had written “666” from “scratch”.

    I don’t think “confusion amongst outsiders” is a sufficient reason to change the name.

  • Anonymous

    The Devil’s Backbone.

  • It’s true that the new name was booed, twice, at the community meeting, correct?

  • Anonymous

    I get the naming concept, but knowing the area once dubbed the Real Side, it would be really surprising not to see some effort to capitalize on the opportunity to alter the “0.”

    Walked many a day and night and early morning in the shadows of the 606 in the seventies and eighties and continue to do so today.

    I think street art is an essential component of 606 design, as that would honor and respect the 606’s history in many respects, but suspect the name “606” may generate unauthorized art.

  • BlueFairlane

    I doubt the difficult aesthetics will dissuade those with an interest in going that route.

  • In some of the renderings there are labels for “RFP art”.

  • Anonymous

    Spoke with a consultant when they presented at CNT. I expressed support for a world class [sick!] skate park along the trail and street art concepts — learned that street art is being considered and that a skate park is contemplated toward the east end, though the the design specifics had not been worked out. The skate park was in their renderings under a “wheeled park” sort of label.

  • It still is labeled as such.

  • Yes, it was booed (sounded more like hissing, actually) twice.

  • Claw Roofing

    I’m glad that parks infrastructure is being upgraded.

    Calgary roofers

  • Anonymous

    Really bad choice of brand name. I guarantee it will be ditched before it’s done. I’m sure they “created” it for free … it’s not worth a penny:-)

    All kidding aside, I have taught branding for over 20 years, and there are some products for which numbers work as brand names (technical products, industrial products, sub-brands, as in BMW- 5 series, etc.). The Bloomingdale Trail isn’t a case where it is reasonable to expect that it would be successful (defined as “memorable”, “differentiating”, or meaningful”). Think especially about the importance of the brand name *outside* Chicago. Chicagoans will over time know about the trail and use it regardless of what the name is, but a proper brandname is important to attract visitors from outside Chicago (e.g. Millennium Park) and make a visit to the park an additional reason to come visit the city and spend some $$ here. “Bloomingdale Trail” isn’t bad.

    If we want to leverage an already existing awareness about this type of elevated linear park (i.e. the “High Line” in NYC), try “Green Line” or something else with “line” in it. Just ditch the numbers, it’s silly and a bad branding decision.

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