Case Studies

The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land’s 2.7-mile park and trail system, The 606, connects four Chicago neighborhoods via an unused rail line, bringing residents together with nature and one another. The biking, running, and walking trail features native plants, community events, and educational programming, and is a platform for advancing public health and climate-related goals.


The Trust for Public Land, a national organization that creates parks and protects public lands across the country, coordi- nates a full calendar of programs to encourage Chicagoans to enjoy The 606. The core of its programming, says Caroline O’Boyle, the organization’s director of partnerships and programs for The 606, is its quarterly processions, such as A Walk with Neighbors, A Walk with Blossoms, and A Walk for Peace. “The idea behind the walks is to activate the trail in a new way on a particular day,” O’Boyle says. “Sometimes we organize people to all walk at the same time. Sometimes we have special things you will encounter as you’re walking.” The Walk with Blossoms, for instance, involved flower- centric art installations, musical performances, and other stations designed to connect people to the landscape.

Also critical to The 606 is its educational component: the organization collaborates with the 21 schools that are within a 10-minute walk of The 606 to help teachers incorporate nature into their lesson plans and to offer appealing locations for field trips.


Eighty thousand people live within a 10-minute walk of The 606, and 1.6 million visits to the trail were recorded in 2016. Its events have been popular, and people of all ages have begun to make The 606 their own, O’Boyle says, citing stories of young teens using it as a place to gather, retired women starting walking clubs, and adults picking up their bicycles for the first time in years. “One man told us he lost 45 pounds since The 606 opened,” O’Boyle says. “He never exercised before, and now he walks almost every day.” As for the education programs, Jean Linsner, who designs the programs, calls them “a catalyst for paying attention to climate, weather, nature—all the things that make up our natural world, and how we in an urban environment interface with that.”

How The Satter Foundation Has Helped

Will Rogers, the Trust for Public Land’s president, credits the foundation’s support as a significant factor in making The 606 happen. “Muneer really understood that this would very much serve communities and particularly make a difference to the neighborhoods that had no park access.”

What's Next

The organization hopes to extend the trail both east toward the Chicago River and west toward potential parkland the organization has purchased. It also plans to recruit community members to help curate the visual art installations along The 606 as it continues to refine its programming to reflect the neighborhoods around it. More broadly, the Trust for Public Land is working toward its goal of ensuring all city-dwellers in America live within a 10-minute walk of a park in order to, as Rogers says, “provide all the health, community-building, economic development, and environmental benefits of a park to even more people.”

Learn More At

More Case Studies

Learn more about some of our impactful grantees.