Located on the remains of the former Riverview Amusement Park, three of the nearly ten acres of Richard Clark Park (3400 N. Rockwell) were purchased by the city from Riverview in 1979—12 years after the amusement park was demolished—and eventually transformed from a dump of eroded terrain into a full-fledged member of the Chicago Park District. And just six years ago, Clark Park added a new kind of recreation simply known as the Garden.
Covering about an acre of land and 70 percent comprised of shipped-in dirt, the Garden is a public bike park that contains around 30 dirt jumps and a pump track that features six tabletop jumps. Anyone who can ride a bike can ride the pump track, because it’s rollable, and riders don’t have to jump from point A to point B.
“The dirt jumps are big, sculpted pieces of clay, basically,” said Matt Van Acker, one of the builders of the Garden. “Most go from launch to landing, until you make it around the whole course.”
There are two types of jump levels—intermediate and advanced—with each jump line named after one of the old Riverview rollercoasters, like Aero-Stat, Comet, Blue Streak, Wild Mouse, Shoot-the-Chutes, and Space.
Trail coordinator Jeremy Kawka calls the Garden, built entirely by volunteer labor, an answer to the skate parks that don’t allow bikes. It’s received strong support from the not-for-profit Chicago Area Mountain Bikers (CAMBr) since the very beginning.
“The Garden is by the bike riders, for the bike riders,” Van Acker said. “That’s another reason why I think this place is so great.”
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