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What is Angels Flight?

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

What is Angels Flight?

There is this thing that exists in Downtown Los Angeles. I've read about it but still have not seen it in the two years that I've lived here. I go downtown often but this sadly shows how segregated downtown is from everything else (which will hopefully change soon- check out articles/links on LA Downtown News Online or Downtown Los Angeles Business Improvement District).

This thing I speak of is called Angels Flight- LA'S VERY OWN FUNICULAR RAILWAY!!!
(a.k.a. the shortest railway in the world!!!)

What is a funicular railway you ask?
A funicular railway is a railway that moves up and down typically built on a cliff, hillside, or slope (see picture above).

Angels Flight was built in 1901 to transport Angeleno's up and down the steep incline of Third and Hill St. it the famous section of Bunker Hill (known as the "nicer" part of downtown at the turn of the century, then known as the "nasty" party of downtown in the 50's-60's, and slowly coming back to the "nicer" part of downtown from the 1970's and on).

During the 60's, downtown was heavily deteriorated so contractors were wiping out everything to make way for new development. The Angels Flight was dismantled and kept in storage for future rebuilding. Many years later in 1996, the Angels Flight was rebuilt close to its original home where it currently resides today but was then shut down again when it killed people.

In the city known as the place that has more cars than people, Angels Flight sadly serves no physical purpose. What is does serve though is as a symbol of the history that Los Angeles has been so indifferent in the maintenance of throughout the century. It represents a time when LA wasn't all people driving around in BMWs and Mercedes and a time where the beating heart of Los Angeles was downtown.

That was a little too dramatic.

Read more about Angels Flight here, here, and here.

(photo courtesy of


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