Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Dec. 31, 1901: Angels Flight on opening day at the corner of 3rd and Hill streets in downtown Los Angeles. The sightseeing tower was later demolished as Bunker Hill developed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

March 6, 1944: Angels Flight car, nearest, came off tracks, forcing passengers to walk the ties to the bottom.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Stan Boyd / Los Angeles Times

Mar. 22, 1947: A workman goes down incline to get cars at Angels Flight running again while passengers have to take stairway up steep hill beside railroad.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 5, 1958: Angels Flight car seen from Clay Street in Los Angeles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

May 11, 1959: Jim Hawthorne and Kay Cantonwine handle the Champagne as a campaign is launched to save Angels Flight.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ray Graham / Los Angeles Times

Nov. 12, 1962: Angels Flight is exposed from south as buildings are razed for Bunker Hill redevelopment.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Dec. 27, 1963: For many years, passengers aboard Angels Flight cars had only sides of buildings when they looked southward. The buildings had been removed for the Bunker Hill redevelopment project, permitting a view of the city's skyline.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sept. 24, 1968: Angels Flight sits next to empty slopes after nearby buildings were torn down for the Bunker Hill redevelopment.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times

May 17, 1969: A crowd nearly half a block long waits to take rides on Angels Flight at Hill and 3rd. The train closed on Sunday, May 18, 1969.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times

May 19, 1969: Workmen with jackhammers start the process of dismantling Angels Flight.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times

Nov. 23, 1971: One of the original cars of Angels Flight that operated at Bunker Hill from 1901 to 1969 is lowered by crane for storage until the rail line could be restored. The car had been stored for two years at Los Angeles Elevator Co., but was being moved to a garage at 12th and Olive Streets.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Jan. 11, 1985: Old Angels Flight structures are overgrown with ivy and weeds at a salvage yard in Gardena.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

May 25, 1985: Los Angeles city mechanic Edward Hamilton walks into a warehouse on 25th Street where the two Angels Flight cars are stored along with lawnmowers and gardening equipment.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Recent image of the original location of Angels Flight at 3rd and Hill. The railroad was located just to the left of entrance of 3rd Street tunnel.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times

Recent image of the original location of Angels Flight at 3rd and Hill. The insert photo shows the same site on December 31, 1901.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times

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Angels Flight’s first opening

Dec. 31, 1901: The Los Angeles Incline Railway, aka Angels Flight, opens for business. The Jan. 1, 1902, Los Angeles Times reported:

Mayor [Meredith] Snyder triumphantly ascended the heights of Third street over the tunnel by the “Angels’ Flight” yesterday in the presence of an admiring and awe-struck multitude.

It was the formal opening of Col. Eddy’s new double-barreled railroad which goes up a side hill and then down again.

The first breathings of this new enterprise constituted an impressive scene.

A large crowd had gathered at the  platform on the top of the hill,…

…Presently a hush fell upon the vast concourse, and enveloped it like a wet towel.

Inside the little engine-house there came the sharp tinkle of an electric bell, and the engineer grasped the lever and threw it back.

Behold, the cars began to move! The one at the top moved down and the one at the bottom moved up…

…”The mayor is coming,” men whispered hoarsely.

Far down the heights below a car could be seen crawling like a white fly up the hillside. In it sat people, and at the front stood the figure of a man in a heroic attitude holding by the supports.

“It’s him.” murmured the crowd, for it had leaked out through some hand bills distributed by Col. Eddy that His Honor, the Mayor, was to ride in the first car.

As the car came nearer and nearer up the slope, the excitement became more intense. Presently the car stopped at the summit, and though the first official trip had been completed in safety, a low moan of disappointment was wrung from the crowd. The Mayor was not there.

Only a couple of Councilmen, rather buggy about the knees, and a red-headed boys were disgorged.

After several additional car trips, Mayor Snyder did arrive at the top. The speeches and ceremonies went off as planned.

The first photo in the above gallery was published with the previously quoted Jan. 1, 1902, Times story. The other staff images are from 1944 through 1985.

Angels Flight operated at the 3rd and Hill streets location until 1969. By then the Bunker Hill redevelopment had removed all the neighboring buildings — giving the train riders unrestricted views of the Los Angeles skyline.

Finally it was Angels Flight’s turn to be removed, closing on May 18, 1969. The cars and equipment were placed in storage with promises of a future return to Bunker Hill.

That return was in 1996, a half-block south of its original location with the tracks now connecting Hill Street and California Plaza. But Angels Flight closed in 2001 following a fatal accident. The train reopened on March 15, 2010.

2 Comments

  1. January 7, 2011, 9:56 am

    Angels Flight became very popular in Hollywood, thanks mostly to the film noir tradition in the 1940s and '50s. One website called "Angels Flight Goes to the Movies" contains over 200 stills of Angels Flight from more than 20 films ( electricearl.com/af).

    By: jimdddd
  2. February 14, 2011, 11:22 am

    […] Please click here to read a wonderful article in the LA Times about the history of Angels Flight and… […]

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