The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust + The 606

Much-needed green space is on its way to the city's Northwest Side. In August 2013, Chicago broke ground on The 606, transforming an abandoned rail line into an elevated park and trail system.

This much-anticipated urban oasis owes much to the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, which since 2007 has awarded $1.75 million for its development.

"From the start, we thought that this project was a great idea," says Scotty Searle, one of the family consultants to the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. "The 606 creates more green space in the city, encourages outdoor recreation, and connects some of Chicago's best preserved parks in an exciting new way."

Named for Chicago's ZIP Code prefix, The 606 will link together eclectic neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for residents.

At the park's heart is the elevated Bloomingdale Trail, a 16-foot-high rail bed running through Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park and Bucktown. The new trail will extend to five ground-level parks, an observatory, event plaza, performance venues and art installations. The trail will also serve as a commuter route, allowing walkers and cyclists to reach six major anchor points in the city.

When the trail is completed in the fall of 2014, more than 80,000 residents, including 20,000 children, will be within a 10-minute walk of The 606. Other amenities of The 606 such as art installations, benches and water fountains will be completed by 2015.

The 606 has been in the making for a decade. In January 2013, the City of Chicago purchased the land for $1 from Canadian Pacific Railway. The Trust for Public Land, founded in 1972, was brought on board to manage the project because of its extensive experience in creating parks and conserving land. It is working in partnership with the city's Mayoral Office, Chicago Park District and fellow community organizations in the planning and implementation of the project.

  Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the groundbreaking of The 606

"It's a true collaboration," says Beth White, Chicago area office director of The Trust for Public Land. "Parks and open space are as important to the city as jobs, incomes and businesses are. You can't have one without the other."

Since 1964, the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust have embodied that same spirit of collaboration. With oversight from members of the Searle family and consultants they select, these funds form an essential part of the Trust's strategic grant making. Inspired by a family legacy of pioneering achievement in the sciences, this charitable partnership demonstrates the Searle family's commitment to innovative and environmentally conscious projects that will set Chicago apart worldwide.