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Bloomingdale Trail Entry Park Opens in Bucktown

By Alisa Hauser | September 23, 2013 10:26am | Updated on September 23, 2013 10:46am
 Park 567 officially opened last week, but this weekend provided the rain-free weather that brought people out to the new green space. 
Park 567 Opens in Bucktown
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BUCKTOWN —   What's not to like about a sunny Sunday afternoon in a park?

Located at 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave., just north of Leavitt Street, the Chicago Park District's unceremoniously named "Park 567" opened in Bucktown earlier this month and saw its first wave of visitors this weekend.

The park is one of five ground-level parks leading to to the 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail, Chicago's first multi-use linear park, which runs through the Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods.

Once the site of a plumbing supply shop, the park now has at its centerpiece several dozen limestone boulders scattered in a circle around a grassy hill and a circular concrete walking path.

 A rendering of Park 567
A rendering of Park 567
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The 606/Bloomingdale Trail

The rocks, from a quarry in southern Wisconsin, are the park's only seating. 

Intended to be a "passive" park, according to planners, the 13,000-square-foot area offers no traditional seating such as benches or tables.

A Bucktown resident since 1962, Connie Gloria was walking in the park Sunday with her 8-year-old granddaughter Raquel Sandoval and called the boulders "meditative."

"I like it," said Gloria, 76. "It's quiet and peaceful."

Sitting on a boulder, Gloria's daughter, Linda Sandoval, co-owner of Louie's Pub at 1659 W. North Ave., said she is looking forward to the trail more than the ground-level entry park because she can exercise on the elevated route.

"I plan to walk, bike on the trail. It's very close to my new apartment," Sandoval said.

Stanley Sourelis, a Des Plaines resident, said he was driving Downtown when he noticed the park. 

An amateur photographer, the 51-year-old Sourelis said he made a U-turn after passing under a viaduct to come back to the park.

"It's tucked away. It surprised me," Sourelis said while snapping photos, adding "It's a quiet and peaceful oasis."

"It reminds me of a Japanese park," he said.

Sourelis said he was unaware of the Bloomingdale Trail, a $91 million project estimated to take 18 months and scheduled to be complete in fall 2014. 

In August, the Bucktown park was the site of the trail's official groundbreaking, presided over by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  

The Bloomingdale Trail will serve as the centerpiece to a larger system that organizers have coined ''The 606'' due to the first three numerals of the zip code all Chicago residents share.

Emanuel "fast tracked" the project and made it one of his first priorities when he came into office, Beth White, executive director of the Trust for Public Land — which is developing the park in partnership with the city — said at the ceremony.

Jonathan Friedman, a 20-year-old Wicker Park resident, descended from the trail itself adjacent to the park Sunday.

The trail is technically off-limits until completion, but Friedman was one of a half-dozen people seen using it Sunday.

Friedman said he enjoys finding "cool trash" on the trail, such as an Akon CD and old cellphones. 

Friedman and the two friends he was walking with described a "flip phone" they found as "the world's first phone."

"No Trespassing" signs posted at the entrance to the trail in an alley on Leavitt Street have been covered with graffiti.

An orange plastic fence barring entrance to the trail appeared to have been torn down.

Meanwhile, The 606 organizers appear to be aware of the trespassing problem based on a Sept. 18 status update on The 606's Facebook page.

"Hate to be a downer, guys, but we read on the twitters today about someone that fell and hurt themselves (she's okay) while walking on the Bloomingdale Trail," the update said.

The update encouraged people to "Please observe the no trespassing signs during construction" and to practice, "safety first, friends."

Park 567, 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Bucktown. For more information, visit 606.org or the project's Facebook page or Twitter, @The606Chicago.