Rafael Catena was taking it slow. The 11-year-old wanted to
"start off with something easy" so he was fashioning a long, skinny
leaf out of clay. Sophie Deth, 6, however, was an art-making
machine. She had already finished a butterfly and was starting on a
The art created by Rafael, Sophie and several dozen others will
adorn one of Chicago's newest parks.
Albany Whipple Park, previously an abandoned lot on the
northwest side, is being redeveloped into an insect-themed play
space that will feature a huge spider and spider web climbing
structure. The insects, plants and birds fashioned from clay by
Sophie, Rafael and the other volunteer artists will become part of
a 30-foot-long concrete bench there.
The park will one day be an entry point to an elevated bike and
The proposed $60 million Bloomingdale Trail will run along a
stretch of abandoned elevated railroad tracks through Wicker Park,
Humboldt Park, Logan Square and Bucktown from Ashland Avenue west
to Ridgeway Avenue, just north of North Avenue.
No one knows when the nearly three-mile-long path will open.
Plans call for it to be developed in pieces and the entire project
could take 10 years or more.
But once it's open, proponents say the elevated Bloomingdale
Trail will allow families to take long bike rides in the city
without worrying about the kids getting too close to cars and
become a place where families can rise above the bustle of the city
to take a Sunday afternoon stroll. It also will be a safe way for
kids to walk to school.
Along the trail, organizers envision a series of parks and
greenspaces, including Albany Whipple Park, that will serve as play
spaces and access points to the trail, which is, on average, about
20 feet above street level.
The park is an important neighborhood asset because 4,300
children under the age of 10 live within walking distance, says
Beth White, executive director of the Trust for Public Land, one of
the partners on the project.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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