Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shortest Railway in the World...

I have to say and admit,  I'm a lucky gal being born and raised in a city that is superbly rich with history. The city I am talking about is none other than the city of Los Angeles. While every city in Los Angeles has history, I've always had a love for Downtown L.A because I feel that the core of the city lives there, it's where the city was born and where it branched out to what it is today.

I have been making it my mission to explore and visit as many of Downtown L.A's historic buildings, and landmarks, and will try my very best to share the treasures I find along the way with you. 

Today's stop is Angel's Flight, famously known for being the "Shortest Railway in the World,"  opened in 1901 and quickly became a city landmark. 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. The travel system consisted of two counterbalanced cars named Olivet and the Sinai which ferried traveler's along the steep grade between Third and Hill Streets and Bunker Hill ( L.A.'s most fashionable neighborhood at that time) The ride lasted one minute and cost a whopping one cent!

Over the years operations were transferred to other powers, tracks were relaid, and the station house redesigned. However, the single-trip fare rose only once, in 1914, to five cents. In 1959 Angels Flight was destined for demolition as part of the Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project but loyal riders and enthusiastic supporters thwarted those plans, at least temporarily. During the next ten years the community of Bunker Hill changed dramatically as apartment houses were razed and residents dislocated by the redevelopment project. Ever decreasing numbers of commuters and tourists and lack of funding contributed to the inevitable. Even the designation of Historical Cultural Landmark could not save The Angel and she was dismantled in 1969.

circa 1898 before construction 

Circa 1903 First picture of Angels Flight 

Circa 1905 
{Look at how the area is evolving. Notice that 
the Victoria house that was there is no more...}

Circa 1910 A Bustling Downtown L.A 
{Being a Vegetarian was even 'in' back then look at the 
Vegetarian wonders what culinary surprises were served then...}

Circa 1927, 
{the horse and carriages are long gone now replaced by trolleys and

Circa 1939
{Traffic lights are now in sight, and look at the sign that reads
"No unecessary noise" by golly, what could they have meant by that? }

{A group of commuters waiting to be transported up that steep hill. Look at
that  Ford 'woodie' and if you look across the street, you'll see that for .95 cents
you could park your car in the lot all day.  
You can't even get metered parking for that amount these days!}

Circa 1959
Party on the Trolley! the shortest lived party I should say... in efforts
to save Angel's Flight. Hold on tight mister with the glass of bubbly! 

Circa 1960
 Prior to the eminent dismantling of Angel's Flight. The Vegetarian restaurant is no more, 
replaced by what looks like a liquor store. Look at the young man on the corner on
the left side, sporting cuffed jeans and pompadour hair...

Circa 1960 
Inside view of the trolley looking up the slope
On February 24, 1996 Angels Flight was re-dedicated, now half a block from its original site and for 25 cents you could experience the shortest railway in the world. Tragically on  February 1, 2001 a tragic midday accident killed one person and injured seven causing the closure of  Angels Flight since then. According to an NTSC investigation, a faulty cable gear mechanism broke, causing one of the cars to crash into the other. The funicular was scheduled to be reopened in 2006, but now rumor has it that it will possibly reopen sometime this year...


Domestically Challenged said...

That was AWESOME!!!!!! Completely AWESOME! I look forward to more Historical LA posts!

Gingerella said...

I enjoyed this too, getting to know a different side of the metropolis of CA.

lakhsmita indira said...

this is beautiful!

Tracy ~ One Retro Mama said...

I must say that I prefer the circa 1898 photo. As time goes on the hustle and bustle got a little too much for me!

Such a great idea though!