Bloomingdale Line

The Bloomingdale Line is a convert|2.7|mi|adj=on elevated railroad running east-west on the northwest side of Chicago that the city of Chicago has proposed to convert into a greenway. The right-of-way passes through the community areas Logan Square, Humboldt Park and West Town.

History

The Bloomingdale Line was originally constructed in 1873 by the Chicago and Pacific Railroad Company as part of the convert|36|mi|adj=on Elgin subdivision from Halsted Street in Chicago to the suburb of Elgin, Illinois. It was soon absorbed by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway (also known as the Milwaukee Road), first via a 999-year lease in 1880 and later with a fee simple deed conveyance to the same in 1900. As a result of mergers and acquisitions, it became part of the Soo Line and later the Canadian Pacific Railway, which currently owns the right-of-way.

The railroad was elevated approximately twenty feet in the 1910s as result of a city ordinance aimed at reducing pedestrian fatalities at grade crossings. The line had been a street-running railway within Bloomingdale Avenue, an east-west street running at 1800 north on Chicago's grid; creating the embankment reduced Bloomingdale Avenue's width in most cases. Steel-reinforced concrete embankment walls line the right-of-way and there are 38 viaducts built into the railroad to accommodate cross traffic from the street grid. Many of the viaducts are currently in need of repair.

The line was used for both passenger and freight trains and served several local industrial businesses, including a Schwinn Bicycle Company warehouse. The Bloomingdale Line was primarily used to reach the Lakewood Branch and industrial district on Goose Island.

Proposed conversion to a greenway/linear park

The City of Chicago first investigated converting the Bloomingdale Line into a greenway in a 1997 bicycle facilities plan, but it remained a freight line with occasional service for several more years. The city reintroduced the greenway concept as part of the Logan Square Open Space Plan in 2002-2004. This plan proposes a linear park or greenway with public access ramps every six to nine blocks. At the east end, a trailhead would be created at the Chicago River and on the west end another trailhead would be integrated into the Logan Square YMCA campus.

A grassroots, non-profit organization, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail (FBT), was formed in 2003 to be the focal point for advocacy and community involvement in the conversion project. FBT has partnered with the City and The Trust for Public Land in a collaborative that will lead the project management, design, and development of the park.

Similar elevated greenway projects include:

* The High Line, New York City
* Promenade Plantée, Paris
* Valencia, Spain's dried up river bed of the Turia (steps lead down into the park)

External links

* [http://www.bloomingdaletrail.org Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail]
* [http://www.cpr.ca Canadian Pacific Railway]

References

*August Derleth, The Milwaukee Road, 2002
*Logan Square Open Space Plan, City of Chicago, 2004


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