June 25, 2017

This Angel's Getting Its Wings Back (Updated for 2018)

Last Updated 7/16/18 2:45 PM PT

Our little miniature incline railway on Bunker Hill in Downtown LA, known as "Angels Flight," has had a tough time of it in the 116 years since it was built.

circa 2012

It hasn't been consistently open and operational at least since I first heard about it seven years ago. It was closed in March 2010 when I first tried to ride it, open in February 2012 when I finally did ride it, closed again seemingly for good in 2013, and still closed—officials citing safety concerns because of a pesky derailment or two.

circa May 2017

Appearing abandoned, the twin cars of the funicular were left exposed to the elements and fell victim to vandals, who left their tag behind—and, as a result, created a sense of urgency to protect them from further damage.

It was shortly thereafter that Mayor Garcetti vowed to reopen Angels Flight by Labor Day 2017—and it appears that he's making good on his promise.

Scaffolding is a good sign, as is a good coat of white primer paint.

It's a spooky effect, though temporary.

But Angels Flight, by nature, is ever-evolving. It's changed hands between seven different private owner/operators since 1901. It was moved a half a block down from its original location to where it stands now, across Hill Street from Grand Central Market. And while it was once a traditional funicular with its tracks laid directly on the grade of the hill, it now runs along an elevated rail.

Of course, we have plenty of movies and TV shows to thank for keeping Angels Flight in people's hearts and minds—even after all this time, even if they've never come to LA or tried to ride it themselves.

But I've been keeping my eye on it for more than seven years now—and especially in the four years since it last ran. It's not much of a commuter solution for me, but riding it up and then right back down is a major gigglefest.

The sight of those two cars, the top station, and the bottom archway now in that white primer is just heavenly. That means this "flight of angels" will be back soon enough.

Update for 2018:

circa 2018

Angel's Flight returned triumphantly on August 31, 2017.

circa 2018

It took me nearly a year to ride it again—but the incline railway hasn't needed my $1.00 round trip fare.

circa 2018

The controversy surrounding its vandalism and the support of its restoration seems to have had a lasting boost to its ridership.

circa 2018

And although the fare did go up (if you don't have a TAP card), the ride is no less thrilling than before...

circa 2018

...especially when the two cars pass each other—one on the way up, the other on the way down.

circa 2018

As before, fare must be paid at the top—either at the beginning of the journey heading down, or at the end heading up.

circa 2018

In our case, we boarded on Hill Street, rode up to the top, paid, and then got right back on and headed right back down—because we didn't need to Angel's Flight to go anywhere. The tiny train itself was our destination.

Related Posts:
Up and Down Bunker Hill on Angels Flight
Photo Essay: Bates Motel, Vacant and Whitewashed

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