This month has been an homage to film noir on GlamAmor--its movies, locations, and all around style--and I would be remiss in not including Angels Flight. It is, after all, iconic and has been included in countless movies, starting in 1918 with Good Night, Nurse! and appearing in one film noir after another--Act of Violence (1948), Criss Cross (1949), M (1951), Kiss Me Deadly (1955), and Angel's Flight (1965). It was also chosen as a literary location by noir author Raymond Chandler for his novels The King in Yellow (1938) and The High Window (1942).
Thus, during my recent trip downtown to visit the Bradbury Building, I could not help but walk a couple of city blocks in order to ride Angels Flight. Built back at the turn of the century in 1901, the landmark funicular railway (both cars are connected to the same cable) became known to millions around the world who then came to ride the cars at 3rd and Hill Streets in Los Angeles. A historic plaque reads,
[Financed] by Colonel J.W. Eddy--lawyer, engineer, and friend of President Abraham Lincoln--Angels Flight is said to be the world's shortest incorporated railway. The counterbalanced cars, controlled by cables, travel a 33 percent grade for 315 feet. It is estimated that Angels Flight has carried more passengers per mile than any other railway in the world...over 100 million in its first 50 years. This incline railway is a public utility operating under a franchise granted by the City of Los Angeles.Unfortunately, in 1969 Angels Flight was dismantled due to a controversial development project that removed much of Bunker Hill, its residents, and commuters from the downtown area. But to the surprise of the city, the popularity of LA's incline railway never waned and people passionately fought to have it brought back. In 1996, Angels Flight was reopened after being renovated and relocated just a half block from its original site. Though the structure was moved, the trolleys are the original cars--named Sinai and Olivet--from 1901. Believe me, it's pretty incredible to breathe in all that history when you ride inside them. I think you'll quickly see why it has been such a favorite for more than a century. Enjoy the ride.
Thanks to USC Library Archives for use of the historical images
3rd and Hill Streets 1898...
future home of Angels Flight
Angels Flight 1903
with only an arch and small waiting area built at top
Angels Flight 1910
with its formal arch erected now
Angels Flight featured in film noir--Act of Violence (1948, above)
and Mickey Spillaine's Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Angels Flight 1960
just prior to closure
Angels Flight today...
booth atop California Plaza at 4th and Hill Streets
Inside the trolley car
Another noir icon--Los Angeles City Hall--seen from Angels Flight
Our ride has come to an end