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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Los Angeles in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Angels Flight

 
 
Angels Flight Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
1. Angels Flight Marker
Inscription.  Built in 1901 by Colonel J. W. Eddy, lawyer, engineer, and friend of President Lincoln, Angel's 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 Angel's Flight has carried more passengers per mile than any other railway in the world, over a hundred million in its first fifty years. This incline railway is a public utility operating under a franchise granted by the city of Los Angeles.

Information on Kiosk at Bottom of the Flight:
Angels Flight — A Penny to “Heaven”
Less than six months after work began, Eddy’s railway opened at Third and Hill Streets, one penny each way. For those who preferred to hoof it, or couldn’t afford the fare, Eddy built 207 steps on the north side so that no one could claim he had a profit-making monopoly on the ascent.

An observation tower was built at the upper end, the Olive Street terminal, and became known as “Angel’s Rest.” This rickety 100-foot tall tower afforded a panoramic view of the burgeoning city. But after a decade, the
Angels Flight Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
2. Angels Flight Marker
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rotting timbers used in building the Third Street tunnel below made the ground start to sink. (Although the tower was reinforced, it soon became too dangerous to climb, and by 1938, it was taken down).
P.B.O.E.
In 1909 the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. “99” built its headquarters atop Bunker Hill, just in time to host the Elk’s national convention. To help lead the way to the new digs, the Elks paid for a red beaux-arts arch and colonnade over the “Angels Flight” Hill Street entrance. The initials “B.P.O.E.” were carved into the archway to direct visiting lodge members to the hilltop convention.
Flight of the Angels
As the trombones played on New Year’s Eve in 1901, two wingless angels took flight, screeching their way to fame as the stars of the world’s “shortest railway.” “Olivet” and “Sanai,” two black-trimmed, cream-colored wooden cars named for two hills in the Holy Land, chugged at a stately pace, journeying 325 feet on a 33% grade. The tiny two-car incline named “Angels Flight” was open for business, and its business was hauling the wealthy residents of the fashionable Victorian hilltop neighborhood down to the flatlands and back up again, 400 times a day, 18 hours out of every 24, seven days a week.
Ups and Downs
Renovated in 1913, the system continued its
Angels Flight Rail Car image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
3. Angels Flight Rail Car
ups and downs, catering to society matrons who descended with butlers in tow to carry their heavy packages from Grand Central Market, which had opened in 1917 as the neighborhood’s only full-service grocer.
Civil War Hero
Its creator, Col. James Ward Eddy, was a Civil War hero and a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s, a former schoolteacher, a lawyer, an Illinois state senator, and an engineer. Weary of politics, he had pulled up stakes and headed west. He found Bunker Hill and its mansions to be an island of privilege isolated from the shops and commerce below. He conceived the plan of linking the hilltop paradise with the street by means of a counterbalanced funicular.
A Few Years and…and Three Decades Later
In 1935, when the city planned to widen Hill Street and replace Angels Flight with a nondescript municipal elevator, Angelenos protested. The city backed down for more than 30 years, until 1969, when the colorful cars, (by then repainted in Halloween orange and black) were dismantled, along with the tracks they ran on. The hilltop terminal stood in the way of urban renovation and the crop of skyscrapers that would sprout atop Bunker Hill.

City officials swore that Angels Flight would be back in “a few years.” But a few years became three decades – a long time to wait for the next lift to come along. Encumbered
Angels Flight Rail Car image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
4. Angels Flight Rail Car
by bureaucratic delays, official excuses, red tape, real estate squabbles and money woes, Angels Flight’s uphill battle to restoration finally ended in 1996, when the Community Redevelopment Agency got the cars rolling again.

The tracks were relocated a half-block south of the original path, and – a city eager to hold on to its past and revive its urban life - Angels Flight and its soaring course have become the most visible and beloved form of public transportation in the City of Angels.
 
Erected 1952 by Native Daughters of the Golden West, and City of Los Angeles. (Marker Number 4.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Native Sons/Daughters of the Golden West series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1901.
 
Location. 34° 3.095′ N, 118° 15.033′ W. Marker is in Los Angeles, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is on Grand Avenue north of 4th Street, on the right when traveling north. Located on the upper level of the California Plaza shopping center, at the top of Angels Flight. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 340 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles CA 90071, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance
Angels Flight Depot image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
5. Angels Flight Depot
of this marker. Million Dollar Theatre / Grand Central Market (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Bradbury Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bunker Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); Biddy Mason (approx. 0.2 miles away); Spring Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); Biltmore Hotel (approx. ¼ mile away); Douglas Building (approx. ¼ mile away); Old Ironsides (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Los Angeles.
 
Regarding Angels Flight. Angels Flight is a landmark funicular railway that has two cars, Olivet and Sinai, in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles.
The plaque is located at the top of the flight near the ticket station. It has a mistake — The correct spelling is without an apostrophe.
Cost is still 25 cents to ride one way and 25 cents back down. Update: After safety improvements were completed in 2017, Angels Flight reopened, with a cost of $1.00 each way.
Angels Flight is Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 4, designated in 1962, and in 2000 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
 
Also see . . .
1. Angels Flight. The history of Angels Flight by The University of Southern California-Regional History Collection. (Submitted on July 6, 2010.) 

2. Official Website. Includes current
Angels Flight Kiosk at Hill Street image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
6. Angels Flight Kiosk at Hill Street
operating hours, a little history, and a 1965 film of Angels Flight in its original location. (Submitted on July 14, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.) 

3. Angels Walk L.A. The kiosk sign at Angels Flight is part of this self-guided walking tour of historic sites in Los Angeles. (Submitted on July 14, 2018.) 

4. Angels Flight. Historic American Buildings Survey record, includes 5 photos and supplemental data. (Submitted on July 14, 2018.) 
 
A Penny to "Heaven" & B.P.O.E image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
7. A Penny to "Heaven" & B.P.O.E
Flight of the Angels image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
8. Flight of the Angels
Ups and Downs image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
9. Ups and Downs
Civil War Hero & A Few Years ...and Three Decades Later image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
10. Civil War Hero & A Few Years ...and Three Decades Later
Civil War Hero & A Few Years ...and Three Decades Later -continued image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
11. Civil War Hero & A Few Years ...and Three Decades Later -continued
My Grandfather's Post Card of Angels Flight from the early 1920's image. Click for full size.
Sandra Hughes Collection
12. My Grandfather's Post Card of Angels Flight from the early 1920's
Angels Flight image. Click for full size.
By Mandy Kirby, September 1, 2018
13. Angels Flight
3rd and Hill prior to Angels Flight image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 1, 2010
14. 3rd and Hill prior to Angels Flight
Angels Flight image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, October 11, 2014
15. Angels Flight
Angels Flight image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, October 11, 2014
16. Angels Flight
Angels Flight image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, October 11, 2014
17. Angels Flight
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 30, 2010. This page has been viewed 2,482 times since then and 82 times this year. Last updated on November 14, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. Photos:   1. submitted on March 8, 2021, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 30, 2010, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA.   7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on July 2, 2010, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA.   13. submitted on October 26, 2018, by Mandy Kirby of Clovis, California.   14. submitted on July 2, 2010, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA.   15, 16, 17. submitted on February 7, 2016, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Nov. 27, 2021