Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time is to be able to help trails raise money for what they need to keep on keeping on. That’s why I jumped at the chance to help Chicago’s Garden Jumps out by carrying the awesome new “Horto in Urbs” t-shirts that they made in the CYDI Store. First and foremost, 100% of the proceeds from these goes straight back to The Garden for tools, supplies and to fund future projects. So pick one up and you’ll be directly helping to contribute to their growth! They’re available in black, heather grey and light olive, and we have sizes medium through xl. We only have 25 though, so act fast and GET ONE HERE while you can!
Garden local Matt Van Acker was kind enough to answer some questions about the new shirt design and the history of the trails, both of which are pretty interesting so have a read below!
Tell us about the new shirt design and what “Horto in Urbs” means.
Garden local and graphic designer Jon Schwass modeled it after the Chicago city logo. The phrase Horto in Urbs on our logo is a reversal of the Chicago motto Urbs in Horto (latin for: city in a garden). Since we are “the garden” (dirt jumps close to the heart of the city) we figured Garden in a City or “Horto in Urbs” was quite appropriate.
I know the trails occupy the site of a former amusement park. Tell me more about that!
Yeah, the trails sit right where Riverview used to be. It was one of the worlds largest amusement parks at the time (From 1904 – 1967) We named all of our lines after some of the different rides. Wild Mouse, Blue Streaks, Comet, Shoot-The-Chutes and Aerostat
Sometime after Riverview closed the land was owned by UPS and was just abandoned…sort of a place bums would camp out and kids would go smoke weed and trash was everywhere. From what I have heard, since as far back a the 70’s, kids were riding bmx bikes and even (motorized) dirt bikes on the natural terrain and maybe making small bumps to jump here and there. Eventually the land was acquired by the Chicago Park district and is currently incorporated into Clark Park.
Ever dig up anything weird leftover from the Riverview era?
Most of the dirt we use now is donated, trucked in clay for two reasons: one, the dirt on site does not pack well and two, we want to minimize digging pits and disturbing tree roots. Back before the trails were legal and most of the jumps were constructed with the terrible dirt on site, yes, we dug up TONS of old ornate glass bottles and lots of other trash. We also sometimes dug up old rusty twisted pcs of metal that I imagine were part of a roller coaster and definitely a lot of concrete footings…you can actually still see the remains of a concrete channel that led the boats for the chute the chutes ride back to the elevator that lifted them back up up for another run!
How long has The Garden been going?
A group of bmx dudes (Logan Beyhl, Kevin Jarvis, Dan Zabinsky, Markum, David Steiner and others) started building bigger jumps and having a regular presence out there around 2006 – They also changed the name from “Lane Tech Jumps” or “Devry jumps” to “The Garden”. Prior to that there were solo bmx guys like Eric block trying to do their own thing while a group of MTB guys (Chicago Freeride – Angel, Jeremy Kawka, Jimmy Furstenau, Tim Hovey, Sean Gaskin, Daniel Peter, Cully Radvillas, Dom Vasquez, Keith Streble and others) were also building out there so there were sort of competing interests regarding the “style” of trails.
When did the trails become legal?
Around 2008- 2009, the park district took notice that the jumps were getting bigger and there were tarps everywhere, etc. – when they threatened to shut the place down, the MTB guys and BMX guys more or less united and mainly the MTB guys, being older and more responsible and more knowledgeable about such things, connected The Garden with CAMBr which is a 501c3 organization and CAMBr represented the trails and drew up a contract with the park district which stated we could keep and continue maintaining the trails. Looking back it is a huge success in a big city like Chicago where everything moves slow due to bureaucracy. Linking up with CAMBr certainly saved The Garden. Since then we have continued to work closely with the Clark Park Advisory Council to communicate our needs and keep maintaining and improving the park. We collaborate with CPAC on park clean up days and more recently, even removal of invasive species and tree planting events. We’ve had a great relationship with the Advisory Council over the years. 5 Years ago when we presented them with our idea to bring in a 20ft shipping container and turn it into a starting hill /storage shed I didn’t know what sort of push back we would have, but they helped us push the idea through to the park district and get it approved. That was a huge turning point for us – having all of our supplies right on hand so we could easily maintain the trails and at the same time having a higher roll in was crucial since we have absolutely no hill. If you ride a place like Posh for example and then come straight to The Garden, the struggle is real! You really have to pump your heart out and work for our trails. We went from a pedal your ass off entry, to a small dirt roll in to the shipping container roll in around 2012 – we’ve made progress on making the trails ride more effortlessly, but it will never be to the level of trails on a natural hill.
Who all keeps The Garden going these days?
Its crazy to think how many different people have thrown shovels of dirt at the Garden over the years. Right now some of the regulars include Jon Schwass, Pawel Bronkowski, Jeremy Kawka, Cheese (David Steiner) Dom Vasquez, Bruno, Nick Ferreira, Abe, Pat Moakley and myself I’m probably forgetting a couple, but it seems like the crew ebbs and flows and each year we loose guys and gain guys and then always have random help coming through too. The long term regulars are me and Jeremy and then Dom more-so on the pump track side. I’ve lived about 1 mile from the trails for the past 9 years or so and spend most of my BMX related time there and definitely treat the trails like my adopted child haha. Shout out to my buddy Cully who first introduced me to the trails back in the day when I was still living and digging out in St. Charles and then housed me near the trails for a few years when I moved to the city! Shout out to former regulars: Logan, Doug Schwichtenberg, Eric Block and Chris Glisczinski, Sam Carlson & Oscar Rivera who played a huge part of former Garden eras and huge shout out to my wife Kelly who loves and supports me despite my trail addiction/obsession.
The Garden 2016
The Garden 2008
History of the Riverview Era