Angels Flight

Hill Street, between 3rd and 4th streets

Built in 1900, this funicular railway ran up the southeast side of Bunker Hill, connecting the residential areas on the hill with shopping, financial, and entertainment districts on Broadway, Hill, and Spring streets. Angels Flight first served the wealthy (1905-1920) who lived in big Victorian houses, and then later the less fortunate who lived houses converted to flats, hotels, apartments, and flop houses (1920's - 1950's). Even after most of the residences were destroyed, and the people displaced, Angels Flight hung on until 1969 as something of a tourist attraction. It then closed, and the cars and other equipment were unceremoniously put in storage. The subsequent commercial developments on Bunker Hill, encouraged by the Community Redevelopment Agency, became functionally separated from the older downtown. Two worlds were created: new and old downtowns, adjacent spatially, but worlds apart socially. Finally, in 1993, funds were appropriated by the CRA for a restored Angels Flight, which is intended to bridge these two worlds. The new Angels Flight is actually to the south of the original location, which also was more "urban" in nature. The new Angels Flight opened on February 24, 1996, but closed again in 2001 after a fatal accident. After additional rennovations, the funicular railway is expected to reopen soon.

Funicular fans may also be interested in the following book by Joseph Campbell: Funicular Railways: From Angels Flight to Shasta Springs. Los Angeles: Borden Publishing. 1994.

For more historic photos, visit USC's regional history archives.

PHOTOS: J. Mapes (top); T. Cobar (center right); early 1930s postcard (bottom)