Angels Flight, Los Angeles

Angels Flight, a famous landmark of Los Angeles.
Angels Flight, a famous landmark of Los Angeles.

Angels Flight, Los Angeles, is a 298-foot funicular railway located in downtown Los Angeles which runs along a steep slope in the residential district of Bunker Hill. Also known as the “shortest railway in the world,” Angels Flight has become a Los Angeles landmark. A funicular railway is a cable railway track built along an inclined plane with two adjacent cars moving in opposite directions which use a pulley system to counterbalance each other. In the Angels Flight railway, the two funicular cars are named Sinai and Olivet.

History Of The Angels Flight

Angels Flight was commissioned in 1901 with the financial assistance of Colonel J Eddy and was then known as the Los Angeles Incline Railway. The name changed in 1912 when a company known as the Funding Company of California bought the Los Angeles Incline Railway and named it Angels Flight after archways located at the entrance on Hill Street. The track initially ran from Hill Street to Olive Street until 1969 when the area around Bunker Hill was redeveloped and the two cars were placed in a storage facility which also functioned as a museum for 27 years. Of the two cars, Olivet was the one that was placed on display at the museum. In February, 1996 Angeles Flight was reopened at a new site with a new track system but used the original two funicular cars Olivet and Sinai, and was operated by a private nonprofit organization known as the Angels Flight Railway Foundation. It was primarily used as a tourist attraction and the movement of the cars was controlled from the upper station house by an operator.

Controversies Surrounding The Angels Flight

Angels Flight had its lowest moment in February, 2001 when a serious accident occurred where a passenger was killed with several other passengers having serious injuries. The accident involved the car Sinai crashing into Olivet after experiencing a malfunction. After several inquests into the accident, it was determined that the accident was caused by the improper design of the funicular drive and the absence of emergency brakes in the cars. The accident caused Angels Flight to be shut down temporarily for investigation and consequently for renovations to be made on the tracks. After many redesigns, Angels Flight was reopened in March, 2010 to a positive response from the public only to be closed one year later for replacement of the funicular car wheels. Another controversial moment happened on September, 2013 when one car derailed and caused an accident that luckily had no causalities. Angels Flight was subsequently closed down and has not been reopened ever since. The cars have in the recent past been vandalized by graffiti artists who have defaced the windows causing a huge public uproar.

Legacy Of The Angels Flight

Angels Flight remains to be one of Los Angeles's most cherished and enduring landmark. Over the long time it has been in existence, the railway has been a popular tourist attraction with a monthly ridership of over 50,000 during its peak in 2010. The railroad was recognized as a place with rich history and was inducted in the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Many forms of art have been created regarding Angels Flight including songs, films, and novels.


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