See You on the 606, Chicago’s Way Cool Linear Guideway

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

A view of the 606 trail from the inbound CTA Blue Line.

A view of the 606 trail from the inbound CTA Blue Line.

For decades, I traveled on the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line elevated train between home in various neighborhoods on the North Side to and from downtown. On every trip, I passed over a long-abandoned railroad spur known to most as the Bloomingdale Line. It was aptly named because much of the line ran parallel to Bloomingdale Avenue.

But during all those years, I never ventured onto the Bloomingdale, even though many types of people used the line, reportedly for both pleasure (jogging) and surreptitious activities (gang initiations).

Following years of work from dedicated people and sparked by a $95 million makeover, the Bloomingdale was re-christened June 6 as the The 606, Chicago’s newest linear park/trail.  The 606, which goes from Ashland Avenue on the east to Ridgeway Avenue on the west, spans 2.7 miles of a reclaimed Chicago transportation route.

Taking a rest break at Damen Avenue.

Taking a rest break at Damen Avenue.

So I had to visit.

On a bright and glorious Sunday afternoon, Susan and I rode our bikes from home in Avondale a few miles south to the entrance at Humboldt Drive. The 606 was crowded that day, but not in an uncomfortable way. We had to veer around pedestrians on occasion, and only a few times did we encounter a fellow cyclist who simply had to pass fellow trail users in a sprint.

Already, there are concerns over gentrification and concerns over crime on Chicago’s popular new route to get from here to there and not encounter a motorized vehicle. But that’s expected with a resource that’s new, cool and popular.  On my morning and evening Blue Line commute, I always observe people using the 606.

As a “transit guy” of sorts these days, I noticed many modes (that’s transit talk, you know) of transportation on this guideway (yes, this is a real word, but only used by transit people) during our visit:

  • Cycling
  • Pedestrian
  • Scooter (non-motorized)
  • Skateboard
  • Baby Carriage (three and four-wheel types)
  • Walker
The western end of the 606 trail provides a view of what's left of Chicago's industrial might.

The western end of the 606 trail provides a view of what’s left of Chicago’s industrial might.

Once the Bloomingdale Line  functioned partly as a freight spur that brought raw materials to the many small manufacturing industries that lined both sides of this unique urban trail. Most businesses, if not all, are gone, replaced in some areas by townhomes.

But I hope that funds are raised soon to erect historical signs that chronicle the industrial history of the surrounding streets before the foundries, warehouses and assembly plants shut down in the 1970s and 1980s.  A lot of effort and money went into giving this urban guideway a new purpose; but we shouldn’t forget what this uniquely Chicago transportation resource was originally designed to do.

Making a Point This Father’s Day

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Perhaps overshadowed by Mother’s Day and other non-religious holidays, Father’s Day is an opportunity to honor the men who brought us into this world. And, by that I mean sharing something beyond a tie or polo shirt.

The USS Proteus has been de-comissioned.

The USS Proteus has been de-comissioned.

Over the five-plus years I’ve hosted the PRDude Blog, I don’t believe I’ve referenced my father, Ted Bury.

So here goes.

My father was an outstanding man who worked very, very hard to provide for his family. About the most poignant thing I can remember from my Dad was his work ethic, and the fact he could make things right that were wrong.

And, Ted Bury knew how to make things that last.

To illustrate this point, please note the image below. This is a knife, okay, a sword of sorts, my Dad made when he was in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served on the USS Proteus, a “sub-tender” ship that made parts or supplied submarines.

(Trivia: My Dad served with two guys who went on to fame in Hollywood: Bernie Schwartz, aka screen star Tony Curtis, and Larry Storch, a comic actor best known for playing Corporal Agarn on a 1960s TV show called “F Troop.” Pretty good company, and probably never a dull moment.)

Note to bad guys: If  you enter our home, you might have to face this. Get the point? I mean "points."

Note to bad guys: If you enter our home, you might have to face this. Get the point? I mean “points.”

There’s nothing like this in the world today. It was made by a man from a generation that made things that lasted.  Each of my two brothers and I have one similar to this knife, which has my Dad’s name and “U.S. Navy” on one side and serial number on the other side of the handle.

If your Dad is still with you, ask him to share some thoughts about what shaped him into the man he became. Tell him you love him, something I wish I had done.

To all Dads who read this, Happy Father’s Day. Hope I made my point.


A Commencement Speech of Sorts, June 2015

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

It’s the second week of June.

And, for another year, I was not asked to provide words of wisdom to inspire those seated in the audience in cap and gown.

Understood, and I take no offense.

GraduationBut, I do have some thoughts to share with today’s graduates, be they planning to enter college, the public relations industry or another career field.

Here are five.

1. Make Technology Work For, Not Against You. Do smart — not stupid — things with that smart phone, that tablet, that laptop. An inappropriate image, video or tweet can make life unnecessarily more challenging next month, next year, or a few years down the line.

2. Avoid Complacency. Know when it’s time to move on to something new, something better, something more rewarding. It’s easy to shift into the neutral gear of life and coast. When you’re not being challenged or fail to see new opportunities, leave your comfort zone behind and charge ahead in a different direction.

3. Get Serious About Doing Nothing. Stare out the window every once in a while and find something interesting. Walk aimlessly in a different direction. And, you guessed it, watch the sun take its time setting these long days of summer. NOTE: All of the above, and other similar behaviors, can and should be done without a handheld.

4. Be an Initiator. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in the past year.  (If you’re adverse to speaking on the phone, just send them a text.) Organize a reunion of friends or family. Dive headfirst into a cause or issue that you find stimulating.

5. Put Yourself in the Situation. Remember that words — and images and videos — can and often do hurt. Communicate regularly, but temper what you say and share with caution about the impact it may have on the recipient.

Perhaps someday I’ll be asked to deliver a real commencement speech that may rank within this “top 10 list” of commencement speeches.

Until then, the five ideas above will hopefully offer some inspiration. And, note to those who are planning commencement ceremonies for 2016: At this time my calendar is wide open.

* * *

And, yes. The PRDude has offered advice to recent graduates of public relations programs. This post from 2012 is an example.