Brown Line (CTA)

Route map:
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Brown Line
A Brown Line train of 3200 series cars
Overview
StatusOperating
LocaleChicago, Illinois, United States
Termini
Stations27
Service
TypeRapid transit
SystemChicago "L"
Operator(s)Chicago Transit Authority
Depot(s)Kimball Yard
Rolling stockMixed 2600-series and 3200-series
8 car trains (typical, maximum)
Daily ridership28,315 (avg. weekday in 2022)[1]
History
OpenedAugust 1, 1949 (Current operation)
Technical
Number of tracks2
CharacterElevated and At-Grade Level
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Minimum radius90 feet (27 m)
ElectrificationThird rail600 V DC
Operating speed40 mph (64 km/h)
Route map
Map Brown Line highlighted in brown
Park and ride Kimball
Kedzie
Francisco
Rockwell
Western
Damen
Metra Ravenswood
Montrose
Irving Park
Addison
Paulina
Southport
Belmont
Wellington
Diversey
Fullerton
Armitage
Sedgwick
Chicago
Grand
demolished 1970
Merchandise Mart
Clark/Lake
State/Lake
Randolph/Wells
closed 1995
Randolph/Wabash
demolished 2017
Washington/​Wells
Madison/Wells
demolished 1994
Madison/Wabash
demolished 2015
Quincy
Adams/Wabash
LaSalle/Van Buren
Library
Bus interchange Bus connections at all open stations except
Kedzie, Francisco, Rockwell, Southport, and Wellington.

The Brown 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 28,315 passengers boarding each weekday in 2022.[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 junction at the southeast corner of the Chicago Loop. Photographed from the Adams/Wabash 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, 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 an intoxicated man, who did not speak English and was unable to read the posted warning signage, attempted to urinate on the third rail at the Kedzie station eventually resulted in an 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. 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 operates using eight cars during weekday rush hours and four cars at other times. In the meantime, CTA has completed the process of overhauling the 3200-series cars with color LED destination signs (similar to the 5000-series cars), new air conditioning systems, rebuilt propulsion systems, passenger door motors, and wheel/axle assemblies. The 3200-series rehabilitation began in 2015 and was completed in 2018. Later that year, some of the Brown Line's 3200-series cars were transferred to the Blue Line, with some of the Orange Line's 2600-series cars being transferred to the Brown Line.

Beginning in March 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. Early morning, midday, 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 line, originally known as the Ravenswood line, 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 in August 2006.

The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project which ran from 2004 to 2009 was undertaken to repair aging infrastructure and increase passenger capacity.[7] Work on the project began in late 2004 with signal upgrades, particularity at Clark Junction.[8] In February 2006, station reconstruction began with right-of-way modernization between Kimball and Rockwell Avenue. Traction power equipment and train control systems were upgraded and a new fiber optic communication network installed.[9]

Brown Line stations were rebuilt or modified meet ADA compliance and to accommodate eight-car trains, increasing from the previous maximum of six-cars. 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 eight-car trains. Two stations, Kimball and Western, received small platform extensions but little other work, and the other 16 stations were completely rebuilt.[10]

The first two stations to be completed, Kedzie and Rockwell, reopened on August 16, 2006,[11] and all of the stations had reopened by July 30, 2009, when the new Wellington station entered service.[12] The project was completed on December 31, 2009.[13]

Red-Purple Bypass[edit]

The Red & Purple Modernization Project includes 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. The project decreased train backups and increased the number of trains that can cross the junction per hour.[14] The project was criticized by 2015 mayoral candidate Chuy García and local residents in the Lakeview neighborhood who organized a referendum to stop it.[15][16]

The Federal Transit Administration passed the CTA's environmental review on the bypass in January 2016 and received a $1.1 billion federal grant the following year.[17][18] Sixteen properties affected by the bypass were demolished, while the historic Vautravers Building was relocated 30 feet west to preserve it.[19] Construction on the bypass began on October 2, 2019,[20][21][22] and the bypass was opened to its first train at 4 a.m. on November 19, 2021.[23][24]

Station listing[edit]

Neighborhood Station Points of Interest & Notes
Albany Park Kimball Disabled access Parking Points of interest:
Northeastern Illinois University, WTTW, Northside College Prep, Von Steuben Metropolitan High School, Albany Park Library
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 81 Lawrence, 82 Kimball/Homan, 93 California/Dodge
Kedzie Disabled access Points of interest:
North Park University, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Swedish Covenant Hospital
Francisco Disabled access Points of interest:
Ravenswood Manor Historic District, Stephen Tyng Mather High School
Lincoln Square Rockwell Disabled access
Western Disabled access Points of interest:
Sulzer Regional Library, Krause Music Store, Davis Theater, Old Town School of Folk Music
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 11 Lincoln, 49 Western, 49B North Western, X49 Western Exp.
Damen Disabled access Points of interest:
Ravenswood, Amundsen High School, Rosehill Cemetery, St. Gregory the Great High School
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra:  Union Pacific North (at Ravenswood)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 50 Damen
Ravenswood Closed August 1, 1949
Lincoln Square/
North Center
Montrose Disabled access Points of interest:
Ravenswood, Kinetic Playground, Lillstreet Art Center, All Saints Episcopal Church
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 78 Montrose
North Center Irving Park Disabled access Points of interest:
Lake View High School, Graceland Cemetery, St. Benedict High School
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 80 Irving Park
Addison Disabled access Points of interest:
DePaul College Prep, WGN-TV, Lane Tech College Prep High School
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA buses: 152 Addison
Lake View Paulina Disabled access Points of interest:
Electrical Audio Recording Facility
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 9 Ashland
Southport Disabled access Points of interest:
Music Box Theatre, Theatre Building Chicago
Belmont Disabled access Points of interest:
Briar Street Theater, Boystown, The Vic Theatre
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Red Purple
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 22 Clark, 77 Belmont
Wellington Disabled access Points of interest:
The Alarm, Signal of Peace, Illinois Masonic Medical Center
Lincoln Park Diversey Disabled access Points of interest:
Lincoln Park, Apollo Theater Chicago, Brewster Apartments, Wiggly Field, Francis J. Dewes House
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 76 Diversey
Wrightwood Closed August 1, 1949
Fullerton Disabled access Points of interest:
Lincoln Park, DePaul University, St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church, Biograph Theater
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Red Purple
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 37 Sedgwick, 74 Fullerton
Webster Closed August 1, 1949
Armitage Disabled access Points of interest:
Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park High School, Goose Island Brewery, Lincoln Park Zoo
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 73 Armitage
Willow Closed May 17, 1942
Halsted Closed August 1, 1949
Near North Side Larrabee Closed August 1, 1949
Sedgwick Disabled access Points of interest:
Old Town, The Second City, Piper's Alley, Chicago History Museum, North Avenue Beach, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: N9 Ashland, 37 Sedgwick, 72 North
Schiller Closed August 1, 1949
Division Closed August 1, 1949
Oak Closed July 31, 1949
Chicago Disabled access Points of interest:
River North, Moody Bible Institute, Walter Payton College Prep, Cabrini–Green Homes
Connections:
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 37 Sedgwick, 66 Chicago
Grand Closed September 20, 1970
Kinzie Closed 1921; replaced by Grand
Merchandise Mart Disabled access Points of interest:
River North, Merchandise Mart
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Purple
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 37 Sedgwick, 125 Water Tower Exp.
The Loop Randolph/Wells Closed July 17, 1995; partially demolished and replaced by Washington/Wells
Washington/​Wells Disabled access
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Chicago City Hall, Civic Opera House, Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Orange Purple Pink
Mainline rail interchange Metra:  Union Pacific North,  Union Pacific Northwest,  Union Pacific West (at Ogilvie Transportation Center)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: J14 Jeffery Jump, 20 Madison, 37 Sedgwick, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 124 Navy Pier, 157 Streeterville/Taylor
Madison/Wells Closed January 30, 1994; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wells
Quincy Disabled access
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Willis Tower
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra:  BNSF,  Heritage Corridor,  Milwaukee District North,  Milwaukee District West,  North Central Service,  SouthWest Service (at Union Station)
Amtrak Amtrak long-distance: California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Lake Shore Limited, Capitol Limited (at Union Station)
Amtrak Amtrak intercity: Hiawatha, Illini and Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, Cardinal, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, Lincoln Service (at Union Station)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, 28 Stony Island, 37 Sedgwick, 126 Jackson, 130 Museum Campus, 151 Sheridan, 156 LaSalle
LaSalle/Van Buren
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Board Options Exchange, Metropolitan Correctional Center
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra trains:  Rock Island (at LaSalle Street Station)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 36 Broadway, 130 Museum Campus
Harold Washington Library Disabled access
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Harold Washington Library, DePaul University, Robert Morris University, John Marshall Law School, Chicago Bar Association, Auditorium Building
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Orange Purple Pink, Red (at Jackson), Blue (at Jackson)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 2 Hyde Park Exp., 6 Jackson Park Exp., 10 Museum of Science & Industry, 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 29 State, 36 Broadway, 62 Archer, 146 Inner Lake Shore/Michigan Exp., 147 Outer DuSable Lake Shore Exp.
Adams/Wabash
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell, Buckingham Fountain, Art Institute of Chicago, Orchestra Hall, DePaul University Loop campus
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Orange Green Purple Pink
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, 28 Stony Island, 126 Jackson, 151 Sheridan
Madison/Wabash Closed March 16, 2015; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wabash
Washington/​Wabash Disabled access
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Chicago Cultural Center, WFLD-TV, WPWR-TV, Millennium Park
Connections:
Mainline rail interchange Metra:  Metra Electric (at Millennium Station)
Mainline rail interchange NICTD: South Shore Line (at Millennium Station)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: J14 Jeffery Jump, 20 Madison, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 124 Navy Pier, 147 Outer DuSable Lake Shore Exp., 151 Sheridan, 157 Streeterville/Taylor
Randolph/Wabash Closed September 3, 2017; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wabash
State/Lake
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
Chicago Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, Harold Washington College, WLS-TV
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Red (at Lake)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 2 Hyde Park Exp., 6 Jackson Park Exp., 10 Museum of Science & Industry, 29 State, 36 Broadway, 62 Archer, 146 Inner Lake Shore/Michigan Exp.
Clark/Lake Disabled access
(outer platform)
Points of interest:
James R. Thompson Center, Richard J. Daley Center
Connections:
Metro interchange CTA 'L' trains: Blue Green Purple Orange Pink
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 134 Stockton/LaSalle Exp., 135 Clarendon/LaSalle Exp., 136 Sheridan/LaSalle Exp., 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 2019" (PDF). Chicago Transit Authority. 2020-01-16. pp. 8–11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-11-27. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  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 Transit Authority (8 March 2006). "Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project March 8, 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  9. ^ "Chicago L.org: Operations - Lines -> Brown Line".
  10. ^ "Chicago L.org: Operations - Lines -> Brown Line".
  11. ^ Rockwell station, ctabrownline.com
  12. ^ "News/Informational articles".
  13. ^ "Countdown To A New Brown - The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project".
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ Swartz, Tracy (March 2, 2015). "Chicago mayoral candidates sound off on transit priorities". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  16. ^ Swartz, Tracy (November 6, 2014). "Lakeview residents vote: CTA hasn't 'sufficiently justified' Belmont flyover". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Greenfield, John (January 26, 2016). "The controversial Belmont flyover has federal approval—but still faces other hurdles". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Dudek, Mitch (January 9, 2017). "Obama sends CTA $1.1 billion for Red Line improvements". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  19. ^ Yan, Jade. "CTA begins moving historic Lakeview house 30 feet west as part of Brown Line flyover project". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  20. ^ "StackPath".
  21. ^ "Work Begins on CTA's $2 Billion Red & Purple Modernization Project". 2 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Officials break ground on CTA Red, Purple Modernization Project". 2 October 2019.
  23. ^ Runge, Erik (19 November 2021). "CTA Brown Line flyover at Belmont begins service". WGN-TV. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  24. ^ Sarah, Freishtat. "CTA's new Brown Line flyover near Belmont to open to the public". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 19 November 2021.

External links[edit]

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