Brown Line (CTA)

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Brown Line
Chicago Transit Authority Brown Line train.jpg
A Brown Line train of 3200 series cars.
Overview
TypeRapid transit
SystemChicago "L"
StatusOperational
LocaleChicago, Illinois, United States
TerminiKimball
The Loop, Belmont
Stations27
Daily ridership101,881 (avg. weekday in 2011)[1]
Operation
OpenedAugust 1, 1949 (Current operation)
Operator(s)Chicago Transit Authority
CharacterElevated and Street Level
Rolling stock2600-series, 3200-series
Technical
Line length11.4 mi (18.3 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Minimum radius90 feet (27 m)
ElectrificationThird rail, 600 V DC
Route map

Park and ride Kimball
Kedzie
Francisco
Rockwell
Western
Damen
Ravenswood
Montrose
Irving Park
Addison
Paulina
Southport
Purple Line Express
to Linden
Red Line
to Howard
Belmont
Wellington
Diversey
Fullerton
Armitage
Sedgwick
Chicago
Grand
Merchandise Mart
Clark
State
Blue Line
to O'Hare Pictograms-nps-airport.svg
Randolph/Wells
Randolph/Wabash
Washington
Washington
Madison
Madison
Quincy
Adams/Wabash
LaSalle
Library
Bus interchange Bus connections at all open stations except
Kedzie, Francisco, Rockwell, Southport, and Wellington.

The Brown Line (or the Ravenswood Line) of the Chicago "L" system, is an 11.4-mile (18.3 km) route with 27 stations between Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood and downtown Chicago. It runs completely above ground and is almost entirely grade-separated. It is the third-busiest 'L' route, with an average of 101,881 passengers boarding each weekday in 2011.[1]

Before CTA lines were color-coded in 1993, the Brown Line was known as the Ravenswood Route; specifically, the series of stations from Belmont to Kimball were called the Ravenswood branch. Accordingly, the Kimball-Belmont shuttle service was called the Ravenswood Shuttle.

Route[edit]

A Brown Line train crosses the north branch of the Chicago River
Between Rockwell and Western stations a ramp carries Brown Line trains from ground-level to elevated tracks
Northward view from Adams/Wabash station
Brown and Orange line trains contend for the intersection at the southeast corner of the Chicago Loop. Photographed from the Adams/Wabash stop crossover walkway on the Green, Orange, Brown and Purple lines.
Chicago Transit Authority control tower 18 guides elevated Chicago 'L' north and southbound Purple and Brown lines intersecting with east and westbound Pink and Green lines and the looping Orange line above the Wells and Lake street intersection in the loop.

The Brown Line begins on the northwest side of Chicago, at the Kimball terminal in Albany Park, where there is a storage yard and servicing shop for the trains to the east of the passenger station. From there, trains operate over street level tracks between Leland and Eastwood Avenues to Rockwell Street, then ramp up to the elevated structure for the rest of the trip.

The trains on the street-level section are powered by third rail rather than overhead catenary (the technology used by most other U.S. electric-powered at-grade rail systems), a decision that exposes wayward pedestrians to the risk of electrocution. A fatal accident in 1977 involving a severely intoxicated Korean immigrant who attempted to urinate on the third rail at the Kedzie station eventually resulted in a famous Illinois Supreme Court decision in 1992 affirming a verdict of $1.5 million against CTA.[2]

After the Damen station, the route turns south, about one-half block parallel and west of Metra's Union Pacific North railroad line and Ravenswood Avenue to a point south of the Addison station. Here the route turns east again and runs parallel to Roscoe Street past Sheffield Avenue where it once again turns south at Clark Junction to join the four-track North Side elevated line in Lakeview. From just north of Belmont station south to Armitage, Brown and Red Line trains operate side-by-side, with Purple Line Express trains sharing the tracks with the Brown Line during weekday rush hours. Brown and Purple Line trains run on the outermost tracks serving five stops, while Red Line trains run on the innermost tracks making only two stops.

South of the Armitage station, Brown and Purple Line trains continue southward towards the Chicago Loop on elevated tracks which zigzags its way through the neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and Near North Side stopping at Sedgwick and Chicago/Franklin. Running over Franklin, then Wells Street, a stop is made at the Merchandise Mart before crossing the Chicago River on the upper level of the Wells Street Bridge before joining the Loop Elevated at Lake Street. Operating counter-clockwise, Brown Line trains operate around the Loop on the Outer track via Wells-Van Buren-Wabash-Lake, serving all Loop stations, before the return trip back north to the Kimball terminal.

There are three sections of the Brown Line which includes the Ravenswood Branch that connects from Kimball Avenue station to Belmont Avenue station; merging from the Purple Line Express. Another is the North Side Main Line which connects from Belmont Avenue station to the Merchandise Mart before entering the Loop. The Brown Line enters the loop going counter-clockwise from Washington/Wells to Clark/Lake and then exits the loop, heading towards the Kimball Avenue station.

Operating hours and headways[edit]

The Brown Line operates between Kimball and the Loop weekdays and Saturdays from 4 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and on Sundays from 5 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. The Brown Line Shuttle service runs only between Kimball and Belmont between 1:30 a.m. and 2:25 a.m. At Belmont, southbound riders can transfer to the 24-hour Red Line. On weekdays, service runs between three and eight minutes during rush hour, seven to eight minutes during midday, then six to twelve minutes during nighttime. On weekends, early morning service operates every fifteen minutes, then increases to seven to eight minutes on Saturdays during the day and ten minutes on Sundays during the day, then at nighttime every ten to twelve minutes. Late night service operates every fifteen minutes until the end of service, although late night trips from Kimball to Belmont stations operate every half hour Monday thru Saturday nights.

During morning rush hour, several Brown Line trains bound for the Loop continue toward the Orange Line after stopping at the Harold Washington Library station; whereas several Orange Line trains bound for Kimball continue as the Brown Line after stopping at Adams/Wabash station.[3]

Rolling stock[edit]

The Brown Line is operated with the 2600-series and 3200-series railcars. The Brown Line operate using four cars at other times on weekdays and all day on weekends and eight cars during weekday rush hours. The Brown Line's 3200-series cars are to remain in service on the line until at least the late 2020s, where they will be replaced by the new 7000-series cars if all options are picked up, otherwise the Brown Line's 3200-series cars will remain in service on the line until the 2030s if the options are not picked up. In the meantime, CTA is currently in the process of overhauling the 3200-series cars with color LED destination signs (similar to the 5000-series cars), new air conditioning systems, and rebuilt propulsion systems, passenger door motors, and wheel/axle assemblies. The 3200-series rehabilitation began in 2015 and will be completed in 2018. Later that year, some of the Brown Line's 3200-series cars will be transferred to the Blue Line, with some of the Orange Line's 2600-series cars being transferred to the Brown Line.

Beginning March 30, 2008, the Brown Line began running eight cars during rush hours, since all of the reopened or renovated stations have been rebuilt to accommodate eight cars.[4] Prior to this, although ridership certainly warranted eight cars on the Brown Line during weekday rush hours, most stations on the line couldn't berth longer than six cars. Six cars are standard on the Brown Line during midday. Early morning, late evening, and weekend service is generally provided by four cars, although this may be extended to eight cars due to special events and holidays.

History[edit]

The Northwestern Elevated Railroad opened the Ravenswood branch between the existing main line and Western Avenue in Lincoln Square on May 18, 1907.[5] The route was completed to the Kimball terminal on December 14, 1907.[6]

The Kimball terminal was completely renovated and a new bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River was completed in the 1970s. The Western and Merchandise Mart stations were rebuilt in the 1980s. Prior to the start of the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project, these two stations, along with the Kimball terminal were the only ADA accessible stations on the Brown Line outside of the Loop.

Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project[edit]

The new Rockwell Station opened on August 16, 2006

The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project—which ran from 2006 to 2009—was undertaken to repair aging infrastructure and increase passenger capacity at Brown Line stations.[7] On February 20, 2006, the CTA broke ground on the project. All but one of the Brown Line stations were reconstructed to be ADA compliant and to accommodate eight-car trains. The right-of-way between Kimball and Rockwell Avenue was modernized. Traction power equipment and train control systems were upgraded and a new fiber optic communication network installed. Merchandise Mart was the only station not to receive any work as it had previously been reconstructed from 1987 to 1988, and was already ADA compliant and able to accommodate 8-car trains. Another two stations—Kimball and Western—received small platform extensions but little other work, and the other 16 stations were completely rebuilt.[8]

The first two stations to be completed—Kedzie and Rockwell—reopened on August 16, 2006,[9] and all of the stations had reopened by July 30, 2009 when the new Wellington station entered service.[10] The project was completed on December 31, 2009.[11]

Belmont Flyover[edit]

The Red & Purple Modernization Program will involve a redesign of a diamond junction north of Belmont Station into a flyover allowing Brown Line trains going north to circumnavigate crossings with Red and Purple Line trains. This project will decrease train backups and increase the number of trains that can cross the junction per hour.[12] The project was criticized by 2015 mayoral candidate Chuy García and local residents in the Lakeview neighborhood who organized a referendum to stop it.[13][14] The Federal Transit Administration passed the CTA's environmental review on the flyover in January 2016 and received a $1.1 billion federal grant the following year.[15][16] 16 properties affected by the flyover will either be demolished or moved. Construction on the flyover will begin in late 2019.[17]

Station listing[edit]

The Brown and Purple Chicago 'L' lines run above road traffic on Franklin Street in the Near North Side community area.
Station Location Municipality Points of Interest & Notes
Kimball Handicapped/disabled access Aiga parking inv.svg 4755 N. Kimball Avenue Chicago Points of interest:

Albany Park, Northeastern Illinois University, WTTW, Northside College Prep, Von Steuben Metropolitan High School and Albany Park Library
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 81 Lawrence, 82 Kimball/Homan, and 93 California/Dodge

Kedzie Handicapped/disabled access 4648 N. Kedzie Avenue Points of interest:

Albany Park, North Park University, Theodore Roosevelt High School, and Swedish Covenant Hospital

Francisco Handicapped/disabled access 4648 N. Francisco Avenue Points of interest:

Albany Park, Ravenswood Manor Historic District, and Stephen Tyng Mather High School

Rockwell Handicapped/disabled access 4648 N. Rockwell Street Points of interest:

Lincoln Square

Western Handicapped/disabled access 4648 N. Western Avenue Points of interest:

Lincoln Square, Sulzer Regional Library, Krause Music Store, and Old Town School of Folk Music
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 11 Lincoln, 49 Western, 49B North Western, and X49 Western Express

Damen Handicapped/disabled access 4645 N. Damen Avenue Points of interest:

Ravenswood, Amundsen High School, Rosehill Cemetery, and St. Gregory the Great High School
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra trains: Union Pacific / North Line (at Ravenswood)
Bus interchange CTA buses: 50 Damen

Ravenswood 4530 N. Ravenswood Avenue Closed August 1, 1949
Montrose Handicapped/disabled access 1817 W. Montrose Avenue Points of interest:

Ravenswood, Kinetic Playground, and All Saints Episcopal Church
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 78 Montrose

Irving Park Handicapped/disabled access 1816 W. Irving Park Road Points of interest:

North Center, Lake View High School, Graceland Cemetery, and St. Benedict High School
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 80 Irving Park

Addison Handicapped/disabled access 1818 W. Addison Street Points of interest:

North Center, DePaul College Prep, WGN-TV, and Lane Technical College Prep High School
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 152 Addison

Paulina Handicapped/disabled access 3410 N. Lincoln Avenue Points of interest:

Lakeview and Electrical Audio Recording Facility
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 9 Ashland

Southport Handicapped/disabled access 3411 N. Southport Avenue Points of interest:

Lakeview, Music Box Theatre, and Theatre Building Chicago

Belmont Handicapped/disabled access 945 W. Belmont Avenue Points of interest:

Lakeview, Briar Street Theater, Boystown, and The Vic Theatre
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Red and Purple Lines
Bus interchange CTA buses: 22 Clark and 77 Belmont

Wellington Handicapped/disabled access 945 W. Wellington Avenue Points of interest:

Lakeview, The Alarm, Signal of Peace, and Illinois Masonic Medical Center

Diversey Handicapped/disabled access 943 W. Diversey Avenue Points of interest:

Lincoln Park, Apollo Theater Chicago, Brewster Apartments, Wiggly Field, and Francis J. Dewes House
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 76 Diversey

Wrightwood Wrightwood Street and Lincoln/Sheffield Avenues Closed August 1, 1949
Fullerton Handicapped/disabled access 943 W. Fullerton Avenue Points of interest:

Lincoln Park, DePaul University, St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church, and Biograph Theater Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Red and Purple Lines
Bus interchange CTA buses: 37 Sedgwick and 74 Fullerton

Webster 945 W. Webster Avenue Closed August 1, 1949
Armitage Handicapped/disabled access 944 W. Armitage Avenue Points of interest:

Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park High School, Goose Island Brewery and Lincoln Park Zoo
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 73 Armitage

Willow Willow Street and Sheffield Avenue Closed May 17, 1942
Halsted Closed August 1, 1949
Larrabee 1540 N. Larrabee Street Closed August 1, 1949
Sedgwick Handicapped/disabled access 1536 N. Sedgwick Street Points of interest:

Old Town, The Second City, Piper's Alley, Chicago History Museum, North Avenue Beach, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: N9 Ashland, 37 Sedgwick, and 72 North

Schiller Closed August 1, 1949
Division Closed August 1, 1949
Oak Oak Street and Orleans Street Closed July 31, 1949
Chicago Handicapped/disabled access 301 W. Chicago Avenue Points of interest:

River North, Moody Bible Institute, Walter Payton College Prep, and Cabrini–Green Homes
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 37 Sedgwick and 66 Chicago

Grand Grand Avenue and Franklin Street Closed September 20, 1970
Kinzie Kinzie Street and Wells Street Closed 1921; replaced by Grand
Merchandise Mart Handicapped/disabled access 350 N. Wells Street Points of interest:

River North, Merchandise Mart
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Purple Line
Bus interchange CTA buses: 37 Sedgwick and 125 Water Tower Express

Randolph/Wells 150 N. Wells St. Closed July 17, 1995; partially demolished and replaced by Washington/Wells
Washington/Wells Handicapped/disabled access 100 N. Wells Street Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, Chicago City Hall, Civic Opera House, and Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Orange, Purple, and Pink Lines
Mainline rail interchange Metra trains: Union Pacific / North Line, Union Pacific / Northwest Line, and Union Pacific / West Line (at Ogilvie Transportation Center)
Bus interchange CTA buses: J14 Jeffery Jump, 20 Madison, 37 Sedgwick, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 124 Navy Pier, and 157 Streeterville/Taylor

Madison/Wells 1 N. Wells St. Closed January 30, 1994; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wells
Quincy 220 S. Wells Street Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, Willis Tower
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra trains: BNSF Railway Line, Heritage Corridor, Milwaukee District/North Line, Milwaukee District/West Line, North Central Service, and SouthWest Service (at Union Station)
Mainline rail interchange Amtrak trains: California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service, Illini and Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Hoosier State, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Lake Shore Limited, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, and Lincoln Service (at Union Station)
Bus interchange CTA buses: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, 28 Stony Island, 37 Sedgwick, 126 Jackson, 130 Museum Campus, 151 Sheridan, and 156 LaSalle

LaSalle/Van Buren 121 W. Van Buren Street Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Board Options Exchange and Metropolitan Correctional Center
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra trains: Rock Island District (at LaSalle Street Station)
Bus interchange CTA buses: 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 36 Broadway, 130 Museum Campus, and 132 Goose Island Express

Dearborn/Van Buren Dearborn Street and Van Buren Street Closed 1949
Harold Washington Library–State/Van Buren Handicapped/disabled access 1 W. Van Buren Street Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, Harold Washington Library, DePaul University, Robert Morris University, John Marshall Law School, Chicago Bar Association and the Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Orange, Purple, and Pink Lines and Red Line (at Jackson/State) and Blue Line (at Jackson/Dearborn)
Bus interchange CTA buses: 2 Hyde Park Express, 6 Jackson Park Express, 10 Museum of Science and Industry, 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 29 State, 36 Broadway, 62 Archer, 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, and 147 Outer Drive Express

State/Van Buren 400 S. State St. Closed September 2, 1973
Adams/Wabash 201 S. Wabash Avenue Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell, Buckingham Fountain, Art Institute of Chicago, Orchestra Hall and DePaul University Loop campus
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Orange, Green, Purple, and Pink Lines
Bus interchange CTA buses: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, 28 Stony Island, 126 Jackson, and 151 Sheridan

Madison/Wabash 2 N. Wabash Avenue Closed March 16, 2015; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wabash
Washington/WabashHandicapped/disabled access 29 N. Wabash Avenue Consolidation of Madison/Wabash and Randolph/Wabash. Opened August 31, 2017

Points of interest:
The Loop, Chicago Cultural Center, WFLD-TV, WPWR-TV and, Millennium Park
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra trains: Metra Electric District (at Millennium Station)
Mainline rail interchange South Shore Line (at Millennium Station)
Bus interchange CTA buses: J14 Jeffery Jump, 20 Madison, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 124 Navy Pier, 147 Outer Drive Express, 151 Sheridan, and 157 Streeterville/Taylor

Randolph/Wabash

151 N. Wabash Avenue Closed September 3, 2017; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wabash
State/Lake 200 N. State Street Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, Chicago Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, Harold Washington College, WLS-TV
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Red Line (at Lake)
Bus interchange CTA buses: 2 Hyde Park Express, 6 Jackson Park Express, 10 Museum of Science and Industry, 29 State, 36 Broadway, 62 Archer, and 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express

Clark/Lake Handicapped/disabled access 100 W. Lake Street, Chicago Outer Loop platform

Points of interest:
The Loop, James R. Thompson Center and Richard J. Daley Center
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA "L" trains: Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, and Pink Lines
Bus interchange CTA buses: 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 134 Stockton/LaSalle Express, 135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express, 136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express, and 156 LaSalle

  • Note: After stopping at Clark/Lake, Brown Line trains return to Merchandise Mart, then make all stops back to Kimball.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Annual Ridership Report: Calendar Year 2011" (PDF). Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  2. ^ Lee v. Chicago Transit Authority, 152 Ill.2d 432, 605 N.E.2d 493 (1992).
  3. ^ "Brown Line Trains schedule" (PDF). Chicago Transit Authority. transitchicago.com. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Press Release - Eight Car Service to Begin on Brown Line. transitchicago.com.
  5. ^ "New 'L' Line Operated". Chicago Daily Tribune. 19 May 1907.
  6. ^ Borzo, Greg (2007). The Chicago "L". Arcadia Publishing. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-7385-5100-5.
  7. ^ Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project. ctabrownline.com
  8. ^ "Chicago L.org: Operations - Lines -> Brown Line".
  9. ^ Rockwell station, ctabrownline.com
  10. ^ http://www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?Month=&Year=&Category=2&ArticleId=2437
  11. ^ "Countdown To A New Brown - The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project".
  12. ^ "Red and Purple Modernization: Rebuilding Vital Infrastructure For Chicago's Future" (PDF). CTA. April 23, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-24. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  13. ^ Swartz, Tracy (March 2, 2015). "Chicago mayoral candidates sound off on transit priorities". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  14. ^ Swartz, Tracy (November 6, 2014). "Lakeview residents vote: CTA hasn't 'sufficiently justified' Belmont flyover". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  15. ^ Greenfield, John (January 26, 2016). "The controversial Belmont flyover has federal approval—but still faces other hurdles". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  16. ^ Dudek, Mitch (January 9, 2017). "Obama sends CTA $1.1 billion for Red Line improvements". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Wisniewski, Mary (March 12, 2018). "As the buildings come down, CTA's Belmont flyover closer to reality in Lakeview". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 5, 2018.

External links[edit]

Route map:

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