Angels Flight—a very short railway that runs up and down the hill between Hill and Olive streets in Downtown Los Angeles—will resume operation again for the first time in more than three years.
A nonprofit has been in charge of the attraction for more than a decade, but a new private operator, ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc., in partnership with the city, is taking over for the next 30 years, and it will reopen the funicular by Labor Day, city officials announced Wednesday.
“It is truly a historic day for one of Los Angeles’ most recognized treasures,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar. “It is our hope that this public-private partnership ensures the new Angel’s Flight will be safe, economically sustainable and— once again—a key City of Los Angeles cultural centerpiece for years to come.”
Angels Flight and its cable cars, Sinai and Olivet, are prone to break-downs and accidents—a passenger died in a crash in 2001. They have been inactive since 2013 due to safety concerns.
Interest in the railway—which measures just 298 feet long—was reignited by the much buzzed-about La La Land (it made a cameo). But it is a 116-year-old local treasure, and it once served a more utilitarian purpose.
When Angels Flight opened in on New Year’s Eve in 1901, passengers paid one-cent to be ferried up the steep grade of Bunker Hill. At the time, Bunker Hill was a fashionable, upper-class neighborhood, and the funicular ended almost at the doorstep of the elegant Crocker Mansion (the three-story house was razed in 1980 by the Elks Club).
Angels Flight operated until 1969, when its location was redeveloped. It was put in storage, then, in 1996, it was relocated a half-block south and reassembled. It ran smoothly for a handful of years, but starting in 2001, it was plagued by safety issues.
In February of that year, a mechanical failure caused one of the cars to suddenly reverse and accelerate downhill, where it crashed into the other car. A passenger died and seven others were injured.
Though the railway has sat dormant for almost four years, a steep staircase runs alongside it, connecting pedestrians to the top of Bunker Hill to Grand Central Market.
The cars will run again as the city looks to redevelop the park that surrounds the tracks. The property has been marketed as prime for mixed-use development that would integrate the funicular and Metro station next-door.