13 July, 2009

Angels Flight:Los Angeles, California-June 2009 That's My World

I can remember riding on the original Angels Flight in the late 50s, early 60s, when I was a little one, with my dad. I always enjoyed a trip to downtown with him. Downtown Los Angeles was a great adventure in those days. So today I am sharing a little bit of it with all of you.

Built in 1901 as the Los Angeles Incline Railway, running northwest from the west corner of Third and Hill Streets, Angels Flight consisted of two carriages pulled up a steep incline by metal cables powered by engines at the top of the hill. As one car ascended, the other descended, carried down by gravity. The two cars were named Sinai and Olivet.

The first Angels Flight was a conventional funicular, with both cars connected to the same haulage cable. Unlike most more modern funiculars it did not have track brakes for use in the event of a cable breaking, but it did have a separate safety cable which would come into play in case of breakage of the main cable. It operated for 68 years with a good safety record.

The railway was closed in 1969 when the Bunker Hill area underwent a total redevelopment which transformed it from a declining community of mostly transients and working-class families renting rooms in run-down buildings to a modern mixed-use district of high-rise commercial buildings and modern apartment complexes. All the components of Angels Flight were placed in storage in anticipation of the railway's restoration and reopening.

After 27 years in storage, the funicular was rebuilt and reopened in 1996 a half block south of the original site. Although the original cars were used, a brand new track and haulage system was designed and built, a redesign which had unfortunate consequences five years later. As rebuilt, the funicular was 91 meters (298 feet) long on an approximately 33-percent grade. Car movement was controlled by an operator inside the upper station house, who was responsible for: visually determining that the track and vehicles were clear for movement, closing the platform gates, starting the cars moving, monitoring the operation of the funicular cars, observing car stops at both stations, and collecting fares from passengers. The cars themselves did not carry any staff members.

Angels Flight was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 13, 2000.

On February 1, 2001, Angels Flight suffered a serious accident that killed passenger Leon Praport, 83, and injured seven others, including Praport's wife, Lola. The accident occurred when car Sinai, approaching the upper station, reversed direction and accelerated downhill in an uncontrolled fashion to strike Olivet near the lower terminus.

Several reopening dates have been announced, but none have come to pass. In early 2008, the railway president indicated that the railway would open soon. The Automobile Club of Southern California reported that Angels Flight would open in late 2008.

On November 1, 2008 both of the repaired and restored Angels Flight cars were put back on their tracks and, on 16 January 2009, testing began on the railway;however Angels Flight has not yet reopened to the public.

The decorative Beaux-Arts archway entrance and station house were added around 1910. The original archway was a simple cast iron pipe structure with a two-feet-high cherub and the name Angel's Flight (with an apostrophe) above it.


The correct name for the railway is Angels Flight, which is grammatically incorrect as there is no possessive apostrophe before or after the 's'. The film of the same name, however, does include an apostrophe.


The initials that appear on the archway, 'BPOE', stand for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, who once had a lodge in a large building adjacent to the top of the original flight.


Be sure to stop by our wonderful That's My World meme. We had over 100 participants last week. I personally enjoy visiting other blogs from around the world. Enjoy.

45 comments:

James said...

I love this post I've never seen Angels Flight in person, but I've seen it in movies and my mother used to tell me about it and the old P.E. red cars.
Wonderful pictures as always!
I do remember Angel Flight pants from the 1970's :-0

Gaelyn said...

Great post Erin. I'd never heard of Angel's Flight. Looks like an interesting ride, if they get the bugs out.

Carver said...

This was a fascinating post, great shots, great memories and history. That's sad about the accident. Hopefully once it's reopened everything will go well. It looks like it would be so fun to ride on that in LA.

Indrani said...

Very interesting post.

Sylvia K said...

Great post, Erin! I have heard of Angels Flight, but never seen it. Marvelous photos, as always, and love all the information and history! Fascinating!

Canarybird said...

That's so interesting and I'm sorry to say I have also never heard of Angel's Flight. I hope it opens with all safety features in place and that people may enjoy it once again.

Luiz Ramos said...

Beautiful your childhood World.

kbguy said...

That's fun !

Daryl said...

Have you read Angels Flight by Michael Connelly ....

Fabulous photos.. as always!

Ebie said...

Hi Erin, that's in my next of the woods. I hope they will reopen soon.

Photo Cache said...

Great post, very informative.

Martha Z said...

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. My Dad took me, as well.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Erin: Very nice story of the Angels Flight. Congrats on being first post.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I have never heard of such a thing. I hope that that it can run again in a safe manner. This is great!

allhorsestuff said...

Wow, that is something to see and I had not heard of this kind of railway before. Thanks for opening my eyes to this..I will anticipate it's reopening sometime, I hope!
Kacy~

irene said...

Very informative bit of history. Thanks Erin.

Elisabeth's bright side said...

The Angels Flight looks exciting thru your eyes, thank you for the tour!

Karen said...

I'd never heard of Angel Flight and at first I thought you might have been referring to the mercy flight organisaton.

Beautiful looking structure. I hope they get it up and running, soon !!

Interesting post about it's history..

Sally in WA said...

Great post. The architecture of it all is just wonderful. Thank you for the history lesson about it. I hope it reopens soon.

Wren said...

I saw that on a trip to LA many years ago, and didn't take the opportunity to ride. When I next was there, it was closed after the tragic accident.

Nicely done photo essay - a good blend of visuals and explanation. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Marites said...

This is really interesting. I haven't heard of Angels Flight before but I'd really like to see it someday for real. My WS is up too.

uncleawang said...

What a wonderful landscape!!Have a nice day.

Lantaw said...

its nice to know about old structures being restored, its reserving a great part of a city's history and culture

Snap said...

My hubby and I rode Angels Flight years ago. It must have been shortly after it reopened in 96. This is a great post. Lovely photos, great color and commentary. And, you brought back some memories for me. Thanks!

Swarna said...

Hmm, it's good that the cars are back in operation after the tragedy. Thanks for sharing one of your favourite spots.

Wolynski said...

I love those old railways up a hill - hope they re-open it again. Never knew LA had one. Lovely photos.

Marja said...

Wow the archways are so beautiful It looks like a pretty steep ride.
Thanks for the interesting information

Hazel said...

names of the cars are interesting sinai and olivet (thought it would be olives). love the pictures - big, clear and expressive. happy tuesday!

nadia said...

I've never heard of the Angels Flight, so I'm glad you shared this with us. It's beautiful, and though there's a sad accident history associated with it, I hope they fix all the problems and open it once again to the public. Your pictures are excellent, as always :)

J said...

It's a shame that its still closed; I enjoyed that snippet of history about LA, for some reason I'd associated cable car railway thingies with San Francisco.

Arija said...

A beautifully illustrated and interesting post. A pity it has lain in abeyance for so long and even now is not yet running.

Pam said...

What a nice memory to have of you and your Dad spending time together. I was not aware of this wonderful ride. It sounds like a fun thing to do while visiting there.

Lew said...

Fascinating piece of history! Interesting design with the shared rail and I would guess a lot of concern about safety before reopening.

Jenn Jilks said...

Beautiful shots and beautiful memories! Glad you liked JOS in My Muskoka! Thanks for visiting.

Sailor Girl said...

FABULOUS SHOTS!!!!

Denise said...

What a great post Erin. I enjoyed it very much and your photos are gorgeous. A wonderful piece of history.

hip chick said...

What a beautiful structure. I love all the old works. I wish the things we built today were half as beautiful. I can see why they have taken their time reopening though.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Such intrigue and beauty centered around Angels Flight, Erin. Truly fascinating history, and you captured it all in such lovely photos.
Do you think you will ride once it is finally reopened?

~Lisa

Annie said...

Thanks so much for your post..it is very interesting to read, and of course your photos are out of this world, as usual!
Thanks also for visiting my post!

Carolyn said...

Erin, what a wonderful post and such beautiful photos of a beautiful historic site. Thank you so much for the history and sharing this special part of your world. Thanks for stopping by my blog and have a wonderful week.
Smiles

Lara said...

you added a wonderful glow to the photos!

amanda said...

This is truely wonderful the story and the photos. If you don't mind me asking what filter did you use on these? My mother used to use the incline as a young girl but although I have lived in a burb of LA all my life I have never seen it till now thanks for the awesome shots!

Frank said...

Your photos and history are what make these blogs so worthwhile. Thank you so, so much.

Danton said...

Thanks for sharing the information. Great ferris wheel colors and photos.

Anonymous said...

Eric, thank you for paying such wonderful attention to Angels Flight. Your photos are full of wonderful ambiance! They looked like you used a Softar filter or something similar to achieve that light gauzy effect. Is that what you did?

Angels Flight will be releasing its re-opening date on its Twitter account at http://twitter.com/angelsflight/.

Cheers,

Leonard
Archival Photographer
Angels Flight Railway Foundation