Just as the Bloomingdale Trail on Chicago's North Side is the quieter sibling of Manhattan's flashy High Line, the New ERA Trail on Chicago's South Side maintains a lower profile than its North Side counterpart. Running through the Englewood neighborhood, which was recently described by the Chicago Sun-Times as "impoverished and desperate," the New ERA Trail would run on a nearly two-mile inactive elevated corridor currently owned by Norfolk Southern.
View Englewood Rail to Trail Route in a larger map
The corridor is located a couple miles north of the Major Taylor Trail and would complete another piece of the South Side's expanding trail network. While the New ERA Trail is years away from realization, the Englewood community has taken the first steps on the path to making it a reality. With a $150,000 grant from the Exelon Foundation, Chicagoland open space not-for-profit Openlands and landscape architecture firm Hitchcock Design Groupworked with neighborhood groups to produce and unveil a report outlining what the trail could be and what needs to happen to make it a reality. The community vision plan, which is not available online, focuses on a larger goal than simply building a trail for its own sake. The report notes that "the trail, in conjunction with other corridor improvements, will serve as a catalyst for transformation and development." Trail amenities and trailside developments envisioned include a marketplace and expansion of an existing urban agriculture program. This blueprint for the New ERA Trail marks an exciting step on the path to construction.