Downtown Los Angeles Blog

history in motion: angels flight takes off!

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I’ll spare you the Is it a bird? Is it a plane? line.

As spectators gathered around the long-dormant orange gates bookending Angels Flight — the 1901 funicular railway connecting the Historic Core with Bunker Hill — engineers began testing the operation of a newly installed drive and brake system.

Angels Flight was shuttered in 2001 following a brake malfunction that resulted in several injuries and one death when the twin cars Sinai and Olivet careened into Hill Street below.

Since that time, many promised opening dates have come and gone; the Angels Flight Railway Foundation has had a hard time securing the $5 million in private donations to complete the project.

But it looks as though Angels Flight may soon be ferrying passengers up and down Bunker Hill in no time. According to one engineer on-site, “the world’s shortest railway” may reopen in about a month if testing continues as planned.

No crashes were reported today.

Down the hill, officials with the Grand Central Market report they are considering staying open past their daily 6:00pm closing time once Angels Flight reopens.

The large open-air market was hit hard by the closure of the railway, losing a vital lunchtime customer base because, seriously, who wants to walk up and down that hill?

How often would you use Angels Flight?

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Check out these related posts:

  1. we’ve got a ticket to ride: angels flight makes it to the hill
  2. metro in possession of angels flight
  3. it’s a miracle! angels flight sees the light
  4. angels knoll plaza: temporary land use likely to stay


1 LAofAnaheim { 01.16.09 at 7:52 pm }

I work at California Plaza, would love to go to Grand Central Market more times. Also, I am healthy and can take the stairs, however, even for a reasonable person of good health, taking the stairs all the time is rough (imagine how it is for somebody not in moderate shape!)

2 deleted { 01.16.09 at 8:45 pm }

ahh! I would have enjoyed taking this up and down for Lunch everyday, Unfortunately, I was laid off this week and won’t be in Downtown as often. I loved reading this blog about new openings, developments, events all outside my ex-cubicle. hopefully ill be back soon.

3 loveandhatela { 01.17.09 at 10:00 am }

All the time here… and yes that walk up and down especially in the summer heat is a bitch!
Great,great news..see its never too late and sure whats one more month wait. :)

4 Christian Martinez { 01.17.09 at 2:58 pm }

I’ve waited for years. Wonderful news! Christian

5 benjamin { 01.17.09 at 3:25 pm }

oh another teaser test run ….
in a month really??? please hurry, i have a friend visiting from nyc

6 glenn primm { 01.17.09 at 10:29 pm }

this has got to be one of the coolest things in l.a., and i have been waiting what seems like years…hmm, it was years…for this baby to come alive again.

that station at the top of the flight is a real americana masterpiece, and beats anything in disneyland ‘cause it has an actual view.

7 Christine { 01.19.09 at 11:32 am }

Wow, I’m relieved to see them actually moving. They were starting to remind me of “Those Who Must Be Kept” in the Anne Rice novels.

8 Anonymous { 01.19.09 at 12:16 pm }

No angelenic article on MLK celebrations around the area? Downtown is more than just art galleries, overpriced “Fusion” food, and bums. Black people read your site too!

9 Rich Alossi { 01.19.09 at 12:18 pm }

Angelenic is just one person, Anonymous. I’m a full-time student and self-employed in addition to running this site.

You want to step up with a guest post about what to do on MLK day? I’d gladly feature it.

10 benjamin { 01.19.09 at 4:51 pm }

poor rich… u should feature a donate icon on the site.

11 Anonymous { 01.20.09 at 12:40 pm }

They should build something like this on the Chavez Ravine to Dodgers Stadium.

12 John H. Welborne { 01.20.09 at 3:36 pm }

Nice action shots of last week’s testing of the Railway! The design, construction, installation (and some of the testing) phases of the restoration — commenced in early 2007 — are nearly complete.

By the way, neither Olivet nor Sinai “careened into Hill Street below” during the 2001 accident, as stated in the posting. Due to latent design defects in the circa-1995 (now completely replaced) drive system, there was an uncontrolled movement of Sinai, where it rolled down its track and collided with Olivet … unfortunately with the tragic result reported by Angelenic. It is important to note that the all-new replacement drive and control system (using tried and true funicular design) makes it impossible for such a collision to occur in the future.

Please also note that the Angels Flight Railway Foundation would like Angelenic’s readers to understand that the Foundation has NOT “had a hard time securing” the donations needed to complete the project. Quite the contrary. First, the Campaign Goal is $3.5 Million (not $5 Million). Second, most of that money was raised (and much of it spent) by the end of last year. Third, the reason the money was raised as readily as it was is that — like your commenters above — Angelenos are very loyal to Angels Flight and are very supportive of its restoration.

Any Angelenic reader who would like to help close out the Campaign is invited to send a tax-deductible contribution to:

Angels Flight Railway Foundation
Post Office Box 712345
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Thank you!

John H. Welborne, President

13 Nancy Richardson { 01.21.09 at 9:16 am }

So John,

when in the next couple of years will this project of yours come to an end, and when will you turn it over to a responsible party able to to keep it open and working?

14 Philip Schaefer { 01.22.09 at 9:35 am }

I think that the opening day will be early March.

I will be looking forward to riding it on my next visit to LA.

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