We’ve been to the Ravinia section of Highland Park a number of times over the last ten years, mostly by train. So the Ravinia Metra station (510 Roger Williams Avenue) is a familiar sight.
Many people already know that the Frost and Granger-designed building from 1889 is the oldest Metra station on Metra’s northern lines. Some might even know that it wasn’t always where it is now — it was move back from the tracks a few feet during a renovation in the 1980’s.
But what is not common knowledge is that even though great care and expense was taken to restore the station to its original grandeur, it is not quite right. There’s been an addition on the inside.
The large doorway linking the two halves of the station is a 1980’s addition. Previously the station was divided into two different stations — one for men and one for women. That’s why the ticket agent’s kiosk is bifurcated, with a window facing the women’s side and another window facing the men’s side.
In more genteel times, the men could sit in the men’s waiting room and smoke and spit and cuss, while the ladies did whatever it is that ladies do in their side of the segregated station.
There is also a bit of important landscape architecture near the station. Right out back is a small park built in 1924, and renovated in 2006, that was designed by Jens Jensen. He was a Highland Park resident originally from Denmark, and is known for his wonderful parks. They were about 80 years ahead of their time, and embraced such “modern” concepts as the use of native plant species, placemaking, and keeping paths in shaded areas.
Mr. Jensen had his hand in a number of Chicago Parks, as he was the superintendent of the old West Park System. He is most noted locally for his work with Columbus Park in the Austin neighborhood, Garfield Park, Douglas Park, Humboldt Park, Lincoln Park, and the preservation of the Indiana Dunes.