The renovated Francisco station is seen looking west on March 12, 2007. The historic station house has been reassembled, with a new concrete ramp for accessibility, but some finishing work remains to be completed, such as railings and plantings along the ramp. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Francisco (2900W/4700N)
Francisco Avenue and Leland Avenue, Ravenswood Manor (Albany Park)

Service Notes:

Brown Line: Ravenswood

Accessible Station

Quick Facts:


4648 N. Francisco Avenue (Francisco entrance)

4649 N. Sacramento Avenue (Sacramento auxiliary entrance)

Established: December 14, 1907
Original Line: Northwestern Elevated Railroad, Ravenswood branch
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: 2006-07
Status: In Use


Car 38, trailing a Ravenswood "A" train of PCC cars bound for Kimball, pulls through the crossing and into the Francisco station on August 20, 1970. The small neighborhood station is visible on the left, with an old-style sign identifying the building above the door. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

After the initial construction of the Ravenswood branch of the Northwestern Elevated to Western Avenue was placed into service May 18, 1907, the finishing touches were completed on the surface level extension to Kimball and Lawrence, which entered service December 14, 1907. Initially, shuttle trains ran from Kimball to Western, but direct-to-Loop service wasn't far off.

The stations on the grade-level portion of the line are between the tracks, with a station house entrance to the island platform. The area west of Western was in a tract of land owned by the Northwest Land Association, who viewed the rapid transit extension as integral to their development. The land association provided for the free right-of-way and allowed the Northwestern to forgo expensive elevated running for cheaper grade-level construction.

The tracks on the grade-level portion of the line essentially run through people's back yards. Most of these stations, like this one, were small wood frame structures, shorter in width than the platform itself, set in the center of the tracks. These wood frame buildings had peaked roofs, a window on the left and a door on the right of the front, fare controls inside and, later, exit-only turnstiles in front for passengers exiting around the sides of the building. Additionally, this station, Rockwell and Kedzie had large blue and white enamel signs on the front bearing the name of the station. The interior was wood tongue-in-groove paneling from floor to ceiling with wood moldings, later painted white with brown highlights, and had its original wood floor until the station was renovated.

The back door led to the island platform. The platform could berth up to six cars, but the canopy -- a flat wooden affair supported by square wooden posts and angled brackets -- stretched only just under two car lengths. Between two canopy posts was a wooden tongue-in-grove partition, common at many former-Northwestern Elevated stations.


Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project

By 2004, ridership had exploded on the Brown Line -- an 79% increase since 1979 and a 27% increase since 1998 -- that during peak periods many trains were at crush-loaded, resulting in commuters left standing on platforms unable to board the loaded trains, sometimes waiting as one or two trains passed before they were physically able to board. The problem in large part was that all Brown Line stations could only accommodate six-car trains (with the exception of Merchandise Mart, Chicago, Fullerton and Belmont, which could already hold eight-car trains), which, along with the limitations of the cab signal system, limited the line's capacity.

The historic Francisco station house has been dismantled and stored, the rest of the station demolished, and foundations set for the new platform set in this view looking west on October 1, 2006. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

As a result, the CTA decided to plan for the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project, the largest capital improvement project undertaken by the CTA at the time (surpassing even the Douglas Renovation Project, which was the largest up to that point). The main objectives of the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project are to expand the line's overall ridership capacity by lengthening station platforms to accommodate eight rather than six-car trains, rehabilitate rail infrastructure and stations, provide for station enhancements to meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and upgrade or replace traction power, signal and communication equipment. By far, the largest part of the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project was the station renovations. Of the Brown Line's 19 stations, only one (Merchandise Mart) was not touched at all due to its modern construction (1988) and ability to berth eight-car trains.

On April 13, 2004, the CTA announced that it had officially received a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). However, in May 2004, CTA eceived construction bids for the project that substantially exceeded the budget. As such, the Chicago Transit Board voted on June 9, 2004 to reorganize the project into several discrete pieces to help attract more competitive construction bids. Station renovation work was modified and grouped into five separate packages according to location to help reduce the overall cost of station construction. Francisco station was grouped with Kimball, Kedzie, Rockwell, and Western in a bid package, all of which were designed by the same consultant, Muller & Muller. Station designs were also revised to reduce costs. Most changes concentrated on non-customer areas such as reducing the size of janitor closets, employee restrooms, electrical rooms and communication rooms. Other areas that were studied for cost reduction were standardizing common station elements, the use of less expensive materials, canopy designs and coverage, and temporary station closures to provide contractors better access to the sites.

Crews are lifting the steel for the Sacramento auxiliary entrance station house into place in this view looking northeast on October 14, 2006. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The Kimball/Kedzie/Francisco/Rockwell/Western contract -- sometimes referred to as "the at-grades" -- was the third of the reorganized station packages to be bid out. At the September 14, 2005 board meeting, a $19.9 million contract for the renovation of these stations was awarded to FHP Tectonics Corporation.

At Francisco, the 1907-built historic station house was preserved and restored in the new facility, but a more spacious fare collection area is also provided. The historic clapboard station house was refurbished off-site and reassembled on a new platform deck. The building was restored inside and out, and the Customer Assistant and farecard vending machines reside inside the historic structure. However, to allow more room for additional turnstiles, a small, stand-alone addition was added behind the station house to house the fare controls. Sympathetic in style and materials with the historic station house -- the addition is a steel framed structure clad in wood paneling -- the enclosure is housed underneath the historic platform canopy, which was also preserved in the new station. The wood paneled windbreak under the canopy was replicated from the original design. A ramp with landscaping on each side brings customers from the street to the front door of the station and provides ADA accessibility to the front entrance.

As part of the station reconstruction, an unmanned auxiliary entrance was added at the west end of the station at Sacramento Avenue. The entrance at Sacramento resembles the new, modern station houses built at Kedzie and Rockwell as part of the Brown Line renovation project: a simple, modern structure with a steel framework, glass walls, and an arched roof. The auxiliary entrance features a farecard-only High-Barrier Gate (HBG) and an emergency exit door.

The new 8-car platform features new wood decking with new, modern lighting. In addition to the historic canopy behind the station house, protection from inclement weather is provided by canopied windbreak shelters. Other improvements to the station include new signage; tactile edging along the platform; benches that double as sandboxes as well as small individual stools to sit on; electrical, communications, and HVAC equipment; new customer heaters; and a state-of-the-art announcement system.

The Francisco platform is advancing quickly in this December 12, 2006 view looking east: the new steel stringers and wooden joists are in place, and the east half of the platform decking is already installed. The light poles, mounted to the steel stringers, were installed before the decking, which was cut around them. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

During station construction, Kimball, Kedzie, Francisco, and Rockwell were subject to temporary station closures; however, no two adjacent stations were to be closed at the same time during weekdays so customers may go to the next closest station for service. In addition to the temporary weekday closures, the stations also experienced weekend closures during the construction period when all four at-grade stations were closed at the same time to allow construction crews unlimited access to station platforms. During periods of temporary closure, customers were encouraged to use the most convenient existing CTA bus and rail service in the area, including special shuttle buses between Kimball and Western that made stops near the closed Brown Line stations.

Francisco and Kimball closed for renovation at 10pm Friday evening, September 15, 2006. Francisco was closed for just under six months. During the weekday, rail customers could go to the next closest station for Brown Line service, or choose from eight neighborhood CTA bus routes to meet their transit service needs.

To accomplish work on the at-grade stations, the CTA enacted a handful of "linecuts" -- times when Brown Line service terminated temporarily at Western station, with service between Western and Kimball provided by free shuttle buses (and occasionally shuttle trains single-tracking between Western and Kedzie).

The Francisco station was quickly dismantled after its closure, with the historic elements stored off-site. During a September 30-October 1 linecut, the contractors began setting foundations and pouring caissons for the new station. Another linecut between Western and Kimball was performed on October 7 to further this work. In early October, platform stringers and joists were installed at Francisco.

The historic station interior's paint scheme is the reverse of the exterior, with the walls and ceiling painted cream to reflect the light, with olive green highlights, seen looking east on March 12, 2007. The modern up-lighting along the sidewalls augments the retro ceiling lamps. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Over the weekend of October 14-15, 2006, structural steel for the Sacramento auxiliary entrance was installed under single-track operations. By early November, the structure of the auxiliary entrance, including the foundations, steel frame, and glass walls, was finished. By the same period, all of the platform steel framing and light standards, including lamps and poles for AV signs, were installed. By December, the steel framing for the fare controls enclosure -- ultimately to be located behind the station house -- was installed.

The contractors began reinstalling the refurbished historic station house on the new platform deck during late January 2007. During the same period, crews also began forming and pouring the concrete ADA-complaint ramp from the sidewalk to the station house. During February, crews continued to work on the historic station house, as well as the flat-roofed canopy and its heavy wood supports and beams. A windbreak patterned after the original was installed as well. During the same period, wooden walls were installed on the fare control enclosure, patterned after the station house's and windbreak's molding and paneling pattern. During mid- and late-February 2007, crews painted the station house exterior, which was given a dark olive green (almost grayish) hue -- believed to be historically accurate by analysts hired by CTA® as part of the design process -- with cream highlights and accents.

The newly renovated Francisco station reopened to rail service at 4am, Friday, March 9, 2007. A major portion of the reconstruction was completed at that time, including the completion of the historic station house's interior and exterior, installation of a ramp which now makes the station accessible, installation of the fare equipment, and installation of lighting, most signage, and other critical components. Along with a new wheelchair accessible turnstile and tactile edging on the platform, additional customer amenities in the new station included brighter lighting than before, security cameras, benches, and a new public address system. When the station reopened, however, the Sacramento auxiliary entrance remained closed pending the completion of certain work.

Construction crews continued to work at Francisco in the weeks after its reopening to complete construction. Additional work included installation of the permanent station signs, including the station name signs opposite the platform along the northbound track, some window work, and continuing work to finish the new auxiliary entrance at Sacramento.

The Sacramento entrance was completed just a few days after the station was reopened. The High-Barrier Gate was installed on Saturday, March 10, with other finishing work in the entrance building completed in the following couple days. The Sacramento auxiliary entrance opened midday on Monday, March 12, 2007.

Punchlist work continued into 2007 after both entrances were open. Permanent handrails were installed on the front ramp in mid-June, followed by landscaping around the ramp later that month. The permanent agent's window was installed in historic CA booth and detailed in early October.

In late September through early October 2007, original artwork was installed along the ramp from the street to the station house. Titled "Carpet", artist Ellen Harvey's mosaic transforms an ordinary pathway into the image of an oriental carpet, a symbol of artistic and cultural exchange befitting the culturally diverse community surrounding the Francisco station. Just as a welcome mat serves as the transition between outdoors and indoors, the mosaic carpet symbolically links the station with the residential community, marking the transition between public and private spaces utilized by CTA riders. Unfortunately, the foot traffic on the path and Chicago's winter freeze-thaw cycle has made maintenance of the mosaic tiling an ongoing challenge.

The project's Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government required that the CTA complete the project by the end of 2009.

The renovated Francisco station is seen looking east on March 12, 2007 as a northbound Brown Line train enters the station. The lighting, stainless steel stools, and canopied windbreak seen in the distance are typical elements of the renovated at-grade Brown Line stations. Sill to be completed are the station name signs outboard of the outbound track (at left) and new fencing on both sides of the right-of-way. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Old Francisco (1907-2006) | New Francisco (2006-present)

Old Francisco station (1907-2006)

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The Francisco station house is seen looking west on November 7, 1960. The station house is still largely as-built at this time, changed very little from its construction five decades earlier. Even the original entrance sign remains. The Perry exit turnstiles and wood-and-plexiglas barriers had been recently added at the time of the photo to prevent people from walking around the station house to the platform and circumventing the ticket agent. (Photo from Graham Garfield Collection)

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In late 1965, CTA installed 18" x 12" aluminum signs at Ravenswood branch stations listing the schedule for owl/early morning service. The three-color signs, installed between Kimball and Belmont, had station-specific times from midnight until the morning rush period. Two signs were mounted in the station building at each of the stops. Previously, cardboard placards with late night train times had been posted at the stations, but they had small, hard-to-read type and were frequently damaged or missing. The metal signs were installed at the request of the Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association, who sent a letter to CTA Chairman George DeMent in August that year to ask that permanent signs be installed in lieu of the cardboard ones. At the time, CTA stated they planned to eventually install similar permanent schedule signs at all stations on the "L", but this appeared to never come to fruition. (Sign courtesy of Bill Wulfert)

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The Francisco island platform, looking west on October 8, 2002. The short wooden canopy and partitions/windbreaks are original. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Car 2403 leads a two-car northbound Ravenswood All-Stop at Francisco on August 14, 1978. The motorman is wearing the gray CTA uniform of the 1970s. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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Car 3401 picks up the rear on a Kimball-bound Ravenswood train loading passengers at Francisco on August 10, 1998. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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An ad train for the Old Navy clothing store chain heads westbound into the Francisco station on August 10, 1998. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Car 3403 leads a Sunday two-car Ravenswood Shuttle pulling into Francisco station in June 1999. The train will terminate at Belmont and return to Kimball. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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A Brown Line train led by car 3357 pulls into the grade-level station at Francisco, looking east on August 22, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Car 3386 brings up the rear of a southbound Brown Line train of 3200s, leaving Francisco on August 22, 2001. The red sign box hanging from the canopy is a backlit "Pay on Train" sign, no longer in use from the days of unmanned stations in the off-peak hours. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Car 3396, leading Brown Line run 423, pulls into the four-car berthing mark at Francisco station, looking east from the west end of the platform on August 17, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Car 3428 is on its way to the Loop as it leads a Brown Line train pulling into Francisco as it heads east on August 22, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Guide John Craib-Cox describes the architectural elements of the wooden canopy at Francisco at the 2001 Historic Station Tour on November 4, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The tour group of the 2001 Historic Station Tour is assembled in front of the small grade-level station at Francisco listening to guide Keith Letsche on November 4, 2001. Ample time at this station stop allowed each guide to speak about a different aspect of the station or community's history, as well as for the group to look around the facility. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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After viewing Francisco station, the 2001 Historic Station Tour boards the charter train of 2400-series cars -- which has just returned from Kimball to turn around -- to return downtown to the next stop on November 4, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

New Francisco station

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This artist's rendering shows the renovated Francisco station, with the historic 1907 station house restored and a landscaped ADA-compliant ramp leading up to it. (Image provided courtesy of the Chicago Transit Authority)

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Following the demolition of the old Francisco station, contractor crews are setting foundations for the new station platform and Sacramento auxiliary entrance station house, seen looking east in this October 1, 2006 view at Sacramento Avenue. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new Francisco platform is well underway in this January 4, 2007 view looking east, with the new light standards, electrical cabinets, wood decking and the frames for the windbreak shelter and fare control enclosure installed. Note the sections of blue tactile platform edging stacked on the platform, ready to be installed. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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By January 4, 2007, the Sacramento auxiliary entrance station house structure, including the glass walls and arched roof, were largely completed. The stairs to the platform still needed to be poured and electrical and other systems still needed to be installed at this point. Note the bases in front for the pedestrian crossing gates. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A northbound Brown Line train pulls into the newly-reopened, renovated Francisco station on the evening of March 12, 2007. Although the station was completed enough to be reopened and was ADA accessible, a lot of work such as the stainless steel handrails and landscaping on the front ramp still needed to be finished. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The interior of the renovated Francisco station is seen looking west on March 12, 2007. The historic station is used as a lobby, housing the Customer Assistant in the old agent's booth (behind the photographer) and the farecard vending machines. The turnstiles have been relocated into an enclosure on the platform. The restored tongue-in-groove wall paneling is painted in the inverse of the exterior scheme, with white walls and olive green highlights. Modern up-lighting provides additional illumination. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The restored historic station house and platform canopy at Francisco are seen on March 12, 2007 looking east from the adjacent alley. The old canopy with its heavy wood beam supports and angled brackets were restored and the paneled windbreak was replicated. The turnstiles are houses in a new custom-built enclosure added under the canopy to allow more turnstiles to be added. Note the small angled drum barriers on the outside of the enclosure to discourage fare evasion around the sides of the enclosure. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The Brown Line Renovation-standard platform luminaires and public address speakers are visible on one of the Francisco platform light poles on March 12, 2007. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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A variety of Francisco platform signs are visible on March 12, 2007. In the foreground is a "symbol sign" or "column sign", with the direction of travel for the track its facing and the first letter of the station name in are type for easy, quick identification. In the background is a station name sign, with exit information in the line color identification tabs. The fencing in the background is in the process of being replaced. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The renovated Francisco platform is seen looking east on March 12, 2007. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The completed Francisco station auxiliary entrance at Sacramento is seen looking east on March 31, 2007. Inside the station house is an unmanned farecard-only High-Barrier Gate. Although the Francisco main entrance is the historic station house, the Sacramento entrance resembles the other new, modern at-grade Brown Line stations. (Photo by Graham Garfield)