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Jan. 31, 1935: Court Flight Inclined Railroad connected North Broadway, at bottom of slope, with east end of Bunker Hill. This photo was published in the Feb. 4, 1935, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Horton Churchill / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Jan. 31, 1935: Riders inside a car on the Court Flight Incline Railroad in downtown Los Angeles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Horton Churchill / Los Angeles Times

Sept. 19, 1936: Scores of Civic Center workers were forced to climb 140 steps, right, from Broadway up Bunker Hill when Court Flight cable cars were closed for repairs. This photo was published in the Sep. 20, 1936, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Hugh Arnott / Los Angeles Times

Sep. 15, 1942: During World War II, ridership dropped and Court Flight was losing money. This photo was published in the Sept. 16, 1942, Los Angeles Times accompanying an article reporting the owner of Court Flight asking to discontinue service.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Late 1930s photo of top of Court Flight Incline Railroad. Los Angeles City Hall is in background with Hall of Records, center, and old Courthouse on left.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times archive photo

The former location of the Court Flight Inclined Railroad is now occupied by a section of Grand Park between North Hill Street and North Broadway. The Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building is on the left.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times

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Court Flight inclined railroad

Court Flight, opened in 1905, connected Bunker Hill residents with North Broadway and the Los Angeles Civic Center. By the 1930s, the clientele changed. Many of the estimated 1,000 daily riders were government workers using Court Flight to connect with cheap parking on Bunker Hill.

An article in the Feb. 4, 1935, Los Angeles Times reported:

For twenty-eight years, operating his little “Court Flight” cable car from Broadway to the heights of Court Street, Sam Vandegrift never saw a motion-picture or attended a ball game.

Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth flourished and waned, and the cinema advanced from the Biograph stage to talking films as he sat behind the control levers of the two fourteen-passenger wooden trams that crawled almost vertically up the slope.

And last week Mrs. A. M. Vandegrift, widow of this Sam who has been dead for two years, received a renewal of her operation franchise….

The Sep. 16, 1942, Los Angeles Times reported that with ridership dropping to fewer than 300 a day, Mrs. Vandegrift asked the Los Angeles Board of Public Utilities for permission to close Court Flight.

Court Flight was closed in early 1943. Then on Oct. 19, 1943, a fire destroyed the remains of the inclined railroad.

The fifth image in the above photo gallery is undated, but I posted because it shows Court Flight in relation to Los Angeles City Hall. Today the location is the middle section of Grand Park – minus about 50 feet of topsoil – between North Broadway and North Hill Street. I added a current Grand Park photo showing the location.

This previous From the Archive post covered Angels Flight’s first opening.


  1. August 23, 2013, 9:32 am

    Very interesting. I cannot get enough of what Americans call”Old pictures” of what used to be, whether in Los Angeles or Denver. It is fascinating for a Europeen person like me who can go back so far in history .

    I just love those super clear, sharp pictures of what used to be. Great job.

    I simply love this article.

    Michele Sullivan

    By: Michele favre sullivan
  2. August 24, 2013, 6:25 pm

    Thanks for getting those photos from the archive – I especially like the shot of the area as it is now, for comparison.

    By: Mac Daddy
  3. August 24, 2013, 8:22 pm

    Thanks for the nice presentation, Scott!

    By: Freedom of Information Is Supreme
  4. August 25, 2013, 8:46 am

    In going through some early 20th century pictures, I was mistaken in thinking that this set of tracks were part of Angel's Flight. Thanks for posting this and the accompanying article. So Hill St. was actually much higher in elevation than it is now, which probably explains the name "Hill". The pictures of the Bradbury estate, on Hill near Court show the original incline and are clear to me now. Bunker Hill's area extended further than what we now see.

    By: rafachavez

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