Over 4,000 people waited in line for up to two hours to ride the legendary funicular from the bottom station at Hill street to the station house perched 298 feet (90.83 m) above at the modern California Plaza Watercourt.
The new railway features the original counterbalanced railcars, Sinai and Olivet, adorned in orange, white and black as well as the original station arches over a brand new earthquake-resistant track and trestle structure. The track is a double-track arrangement, sharing a common center rail, with the mid-section diverging into two separate tracks for passage. The cars pass by just 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) apart.
The cost for the 11-month restoration cost $4.1 million (US), paid for by the city government and the MTA, L.A.'s public transit agency.
The one-minute ride costs 25 cents (US), which goes directly to fund the operations and maintenance of the railway. Angels Flight is now owned and operated by the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to running the funicular in the interest of the public.
Angels Flight initially opened on 31st December 1901 by Colonel J.W. Eddy. At the time, Angels Flight joined two other funiculars in the region: Court Flight, located a few blocks northeast, and the Mt. Lowe Incline, high above the city in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The original Angels Flight was located nearly one block to the north, carrying people between the sophisticated, Victorian-themed neighborhood of Bunker Hill to the bustling shopping district below.
In the years following World War II, Bunker Hill turned into a slum area and was slated for future redevelopment. The Victorian homes and nearby buildings were either moved or demolished, and on 18 May 1969 Angels Flight was dismantled to make room for high-rise structures. The city promised the citizens of Los Angeles that the railway would be rebuilt at a nearby location within two years. But nothing was done until over two decades later, in the process becoming a beloved landmark and cherished symbol of L.A.'s history.
Today Angels Flight stands as a symbol of L.A.'s future as well as its past. The tourism industry plans to make Angels Flight as much of an L.A. attraction as the San Francisco's Cable Cars or London's Double-Decker buses. With major hotels nearby and the Metro Rail subway directly adjacent, Angels Flight will no doubt be an important tourist attraction in the years to come.
For more information on Angels Flight on the Internet, visit the Angels Flight page at: http://www.westworld.com/~elson/larail/angelsflight.html
Copyright © 1996 by Michel Azéma, Paris (France) E-Mail: contact