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Angels Flight photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
This image is available as a print or poster.

Angels Flight photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
This image is available as a print or poster.

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Angels Flight

Formerly: The Los Angeles Incline Railway
Built: 1901
Designed by: Merceau Bridge & Construction Company
Type: Transportation Facility
Location: 351 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, United States
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L os Angeles' funicular railway system has seen its ups and downs over the years, both literally and figuratively. Once there were two railways carrying people up and down the hills of the city's core. Today, only one track remains and is future is only slowly coming together.

Angels Flight climbs the side of Bunker Hill from Hill Street to Olive Street and California Plaza. When it opened at the turn of the 20th century, Bunker Hill was a residential district and people worked in the city below. It was Colonel James Ward Eddy who won a city contract to build the railway which helped unify the two parts of downtown.

By the 1960's, the city's commercial district was climbing the hill and the hilltop neighborhood was blighted as people moved to the suburbs. Eventually redevelopment of Bunker Hill halted the funicular. In 1969 it was dismantled and warehoused until it could be restored.

That lasted until 1996 when because of popular pressure on local politicians the railway reopened in a new location. Delighted tourists, and more than a few covert locals, paid the 25-cents for a ride up or down the hill, or both.

Then in an instant it all ended -- in 2001 a deadly accident shut Angels Flight once again. The Sinai car broke free and raced down the tracks, plowing into the Hill Street terminal. An 83-year-old man was killed and seven other people were seriously hurt. A federal investigation determined not only that the rebuilt railway was not constructed properly, but that local governments failed in their duties to inspect it.

A number of promises were made over the subsequent years. Dates marked in calendars passed and faded into memories as the railway remained dormant. But thanks to a $3,500,000 donation from several private individuals, including mystery writer Michael Connelly, the rail cars and track were restored and there is hope once again that the Angels Flight will go back into service.

In November of 2008 the cars were once again put on their tracks, but no one from the city will commit to a re-start date.

  • Architecture firm: Merceau Bridge & Construction Company
  • Architecture firm: Train & Williams

  • Trip length: 298 feet.
  • Grade: 33%

  • December 31, 1901: Angels Flight opens to the public.
  • 1969: Angels Flight is dismantled and stored by the city.
  • February 24, 1996: Angels Flight reopens.
  • October 13, 2000: Angels Flight is added to the National Register of Historic Places
  • February 1, 2001: Angels Flight is closed when an out of control rail car kills a man.
  • November 1, 2008: After being refurbished, the Angels Flight rail cars are placed back on the track.

  • Though tour guides will claim this is the world's shortest railway, that is not true. There are several shorter in other parts of the world.

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Did You Know?
  • The cars are called "Olivet" and "Sinai."
  • The current location of Angels Flight is not its original location. It is about a half a city block south of where it once was.

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Steve Phillips
Saturday, April 24th, 2010 @ 3:47pm
Rating: Five stars.
Angel's Flight re-opened with virtually no advance notice and very little fanfare at 6:15am on March 15, 2010. The first paying passenger down Bunker Hill was a regular commuter, not a tourist, on his way to the adjacent Metro Red Line subway station.

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