Urban Fold

Process, Rather Than Product, Distinguishes Chicago's 'High Line'

According to Kate Dries, it's not the design that sets apart the plans for Bloomingdale Trail, Chicago's elevated railway to park conversion. The way the project has evolved sets it apart from its east coast cousin and prior efforts.

According to Dries, partnerships between government agencies and community groups, involvement of community members in every stage of the planning and design process, and the Trail's intended use as a local resource, rather than tourist destination, sets Bloomingdale Trail apart from its east coast cousin, and Chicago's typical top-down approach to planning. 

Whether reflecting reality or a bit of explicatory exaggeration, Dries distinguishes Bloomingdale Trail's extensive community engagement with the High Line's definition "by a mass amount of money donated by high profile celebrities." She also contrasts the Chicago park's local orientation with the High Line's function as "a tourist destination for high living, not a park meant to integrate into normal life."

However, it's with Chicago's typical approach to planning that the largest discrepancy may lie. "[T]his is a project that, by its nature, could not have happened without endless community input and collaboration  -- a far cry from the way city planning and development has been approached in decades past," says Dries, "and proof that perhaps some effort towards transparency in goverment [sic] is working."

Full Story: The Bloomingdale Trail reveals Chicago's idea of grand city planning


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