At 298 feet, it is dubbed “The Short Railway in the World.” But as short as it is, Angels Flight is one of the jewels of Los Angeles. The funicular downtown reopened to passengers last March, and if you haven’t been there yet, you really need to go and take a quick ride.
Angels Flight opened in 1901 at the corner of Hill and 3rd Streets to shuttle passengers up and down Bunker Hill to Olive Street. When the unfortunate decision was made to level Bunker Hill in 1969, the railway was closed down and dismantled. Fortunately, it was not simply dumped in a landfill; the parts were stored away intact, with the hope of rebuilding it some day.
What the corner looks like today:
That day came in 1996, when it was rebuilt up the block at 4th and Hill. The familiar archway and the same two cars were used, but a new track system was built.
Things came to a sudden halt on February 1, 2oo1 when a car at the top of the track suddenly reversed direction, went barreling down the tracks and smashed into the other car. One man was killed and seven other people were injured.
It took nine long years to investigate and make Angels Flight safe again, and on March 15, 2010 it started running again.
The ride costs a quarter each way. And for the 30 seconds it takes, you can feel like you are back in LA in the 1940s, when Bunker Hill was still a fashionable place filled with beautiful Victorian houses, instead of the sterile skyscrapers and the hideous Disney Concert Hall that sit there today.