Thursday, August 31, 2017

Los Angeles Landmark with a 116-year History Reopens

(Detail) Anton Wagner (Photographer), Mexican team working at Hill and 3rd Street, 1932
Los Angeles: 1932–33 by Anton Wagner, PC 017, California Historical Society

Eighty-five years ago, Anton Wagner, a young German PhD student, photographed Mexican laborers at the foot of Angels Flight—the short railway that carried passengers up and down a steep incline to Bunker Hill, then a neighborhood of Victorian mansions, in downtown Los Angeles.

Originally built in 1901, when a ride cost a penny, Angels Flight brought millions of people to and from the shopping area of downtown Los Angeles from its location at Hill and Olive Streets. It closed in 1969, a casuality of urban redevelopment, and reopened in 1996 at a new site half a block south. This time, its use was short-lived: A fatal malfunctioning caused its closure in 2001, and it lay broken and abandoned for the rest of the decade.

Angels Flight Funicular, view from lower end, in 2004
Photo: John Sullivan
Finally, in 2010, the small railway reopened, only to be closed again in 2013 when a derailment stranded a number of passengers above a downtown street. When an investigation revealed public safety hazards, the Public Utilities Commission forced another closure.

Today, the famous funicular—one car ascends as the other descends—reopened to great fanfare, as the following images celebrate. CHS Director of Exhibitions, Jessica Hough, braved the 100-degree heat today to take a ride on the newly restored Angels Flight. She sent these images and video (see below) from today's event!

And a video on Angels Flight today!

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager
Anton Wagner’s 1932–33 photographs of Los Angeles are housed at the California Historical Society and may be viewed online at
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