Angels Flight, “the world’s shortest railway”, which recently featured in the award-winning film La La Land, is due to reopen in downtown Los Angeles this summer following a campaign to preserve the historic funicular that has ferried people between the top and bottom of Bunker Hill for more than a century.
Concerns over the safety of the 298-foot railroad led to its closure in 2013 after a derailment that year and a collision, which resulted in the death of a passenger, 12 years prior. But in 2015, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, commissioned the city’s transportation authority to produce a report on Angels Flight, with recommendations for resuming service.
In a deal struck by the mayor, the non-profit Angels Flight Railway Foundation and the ACS Group—a construction and development company—ACS will pay for safety upgrades and maintain and operate the railway for the next 30 years in exchange for a share of the profits. The newly modernised railway, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is due to reopen by Labor Day (4 September).
Angels Flight was built in 1901 by the Civil War veteran Col. J.W. Eddy to ferry workers from Bunker Hill to their jobs downtown. It eventually closed in 1969 as houses in the neighbourhood were demolished to make room for high rises. In 1993, the cars were brought out of storage and the railway was rebuilt a few hundred metres down the block. It closed again following the death of a passenger in 2001.
Councilman José Huizar says he hopes the public-private partnership will “ensure that the new Angels Flight will be safe, economically sustainable and—once again—a key City of Los Angeles cultural centrepiece for years to come”. Garcetti describes it as “a cultural gem that tells an unforgettable story about the history of Los Angeles”.