Angels Flight

Angels Flight is a landmark narrow gauge funicular railway
  • Address: 15 South Hill Street Los Angeles, CA 90013
  • Architectural Style: Beaux-Arts architecture
  • Architect: Merceau Bridge & Construction Co.; Train & Williams
  • Opened: 1901 

General Information

Angels Flight is located in the Bunker Hill district of downtown Los Angeles, California. Angels Flight, the "Shortest Railway in the World," opened in 1901 and quickly became a city landmark. The funicular system of two counterbalanced cars moving up and down parallel tracks was an efficient means of transporting passengers along the steep grade between Third and Hill Streets and fashionable Bunker Hill.

This is the Station House located at the top next to the fountain filled Watercourt at the California Plaza complex. The decorative Beaux-Arts archway entrance and station house were added around 1910.


Angels Flight has operated in two slightly different sites, using the same cars. This first Angels Flight operated from 1901 until 1969. Col. James Ward Eddy was the visionary who convinced City Hall to grant him a 30-year franchise to construct and operate an inclined railway. It connected the residential areas on the hill with shopping, financial and entertainment districts on Hill, Broadway and Spring streets. The ride lasted one minute and cost one cent.

The original Angels Flight, initially known as the "Los Angeles Incline Railway," ran northwest from the west corner of Third and Hill Streets. Angels flight consisted of two carriages. As one car ascended the other descended. The two cars Sinai and Olivet were named after mountains mentioned in The Bible. Originally, Sinai and Olivet were adorned in white. In the 1930's they were painted orange and black.

From 1905 until 1920 Angels Flight served the wealthy that lived in big Victorian houses. Later it served the less fortunate who lived in houses converted to flats, hotels, apartments and flop houses from the 1920's through the 1950's. After the most of the residences were destroyed, Angels Flight became more of a tourist attraction.

The second Angels Flight from Hill (between 3rd and 4th streets) up a 298 foot incline to the Watercourt at California Plaza (a half a block south of the original site). This location opened in 1996, and closed in 2001 because of a fatal accident. The accident occurred on February 1, 2001, a passenger was killed and several others were injured. It has been scheduled to be reopened several times, but reconstruction on the Angels Flight Railway continues. 

Once the cars, station house and Hill Street arch are completely restored, the next challenge will be to combine them into a working inclined railway. Angels Flight will be an integral part of the exciting California Plaza complex that includes office and residential buildings, a hotel and the Museum of Contemporary Art. On November 1, 2008, both of the repaired and restored Angels Flight cars were put back on their tracks and testing began January 2009. Angels Flight reopened on March 15th, 2010.
On September 5, 2013, one car derailed near the middle of the guideway. There were no injuries, but passengers had to be rescued from the cars by firefighters. The brake safety system had been bypassed with a small tree branch.  It was determined that the accident was the intentional bypass of the funicular safety system.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause of the September 5, 2013, accident was the intentional bypass of the funicular safety system with Angels Flight management knowledge; and Angels Flight management continuation of revenue operations despite prolonged, and repeated, unidentified system safety shutdowns.

Plans to bring the railway back into service began in January 2017.  Safety upgrades were made.  Angels Flight reopened for public service on August 31, 2017.


1. ^ a b "Angels Flight". Los Angeles Conservacy. Retrieved on 2009-07-15.
2. ^ a b "Angels Flight". Retrieved on 2009-07-15.


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