By Brian E. Clark
City dwellers certainly crave the bustle of activities and access to entertain- ment, but they also dream of quiet, rejuvenating places where they can connect with nature. More and more cities are turning that dream into reality by transforming outdated eyesores into natural spaces
filled with shady trees, native plants and grass-lined paths.
From Chicago to Dallas obsolete transportation structures
are being recreated into natural retreats and urban oases.
Chicago graphic designer Kevin Walsh frequently satis-fies his craving for nature along the Bloomingdale Trail
in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. But generations
ago, the Bloomingdale Trail wasn’t a link to nature. In fact
if Kevin had strolled along the trail 25 years ago, he might
have been run over by a train. That’s because the nearly
three-mile-long Bloomingdale Trail runs on an elevated
stretch of Chicago & Pacific Rail Line that bustled with
freight for roughly 120 years, but was all but abandoned
two decades ago. It left behind blot on the landscape, until
it was converted into Chicago’s newest park.
“This trail is a great addition to my part of town,” said
Walsh. “I can commute on it to work downtown, walk
my dog, jog or just go for a stroll and enjoy nature and
the landscaping while I think about what’s going on in
the world and my life. It’s really cool, too, that they put
curves and dips in the path, overlooks and side loops.”
Cities bringing a
piece of nature
into urban neighborhoods
Bloomingdale Trail runs on an elevated stretch of Chicago
& Pacific Rail Line in Chicago.
Courtesy of USDA; photos by Lance Cheung
Photo by Steve Vance