Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 1, 2017

Getting Vertical in La La Land: Angels Flight Reopens

Because Los Angeles offers visitors so few attractions — only beaches, nearby mountain wild lands, the Getty and LA County museums (and dozens more), Disney Hall, DisneyLAND, Hollywood, Universal Studios, theaters, great food of every description and a few thousand other things — I have good news: Angels Flight is back in operation, effective August 31, 2017.

Angels Flight Brad Nixon 3449 (640x480)

What is it? Angels Flight is a funicular railway that traverses a steep 298 feet from the base to the top of downtown’s Bunker Hill: essentially, from the edge of the shopping district up to a plaza bordering Grand Avenue, along which are located the new Broad Museum (officially “The Broad,” pronounced brōd), LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center complex, office buildings and a number of other points of interest.

Angels Flight opened in 1901, when Bunker Hill was a residential area of Victorian mansions. Bunker hill is steep, and the railway was a boon to pedestrians going to and from work and shopping in the city.

After operating for 68 years, Angel’s Flight spent several decades in limbo while Bunker Hill became a center of commerce, full of towering buildings (resulting in the loss of some scores of Victorian-era houses). The ride was revived briefly in 1996, but safety problems, including a fatal accident, resulted in its closure, the most recent for the past 4 years.

Now it’s back, having resumed service yesterday. By itself, unless you’re a railroad buff, it’s probably not enough of a reason to brave the traffic congestion, parking challenges and not-entirely-straightforward grid of downtown’s streets. Fortunately, downtown Los Angeles, although visited by a small fraction of the visitors to this metropolis, is replete with interesting places to eat, shop or simply admire the city’s impressive array of architecture.

One reason you might have is to reenact the romantic ride Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling made on Angels Flight in the 2016 film, “La La Land.”

Angels Flight in La La Land Summit Entertainment (640x341)

Officially, Angels Flight was closed for safety reasons when the film was shot. No one has officially revealed how the production managed to get the train functioning in order to shoot the scene. Someone knows. It’s a movie town. Magic happens.

In any case, Angels Flight is running. The antique funicular — 2 identical cars making opposite-direction trips to counterweight one another — will lift you from Hill Street, and take you back again.

Angels Flight Brad Nixon 3452 (473x640)

The round trip now costs $1 (slightly up from one penny in 1901).

I’ve made the trip a few times, when the fare was 25 cents each way, but it’s still a bargain. Not something you can do in just any city. It’s good to know the old cars are running again. They looked forlorn these past few years, idled on their hillside.

At the foot of Angels Flight on Hill Street, you’re almost directly outside one entrance to the endlessly interesting Central Market, with its vast variety of multicultural fruit and vegetable stands, butcher and bakery counters, and always-evolving (and hip) casual dining options.

Walk out the opposite side of Central Market onto Broadway, and across the street is the Bradbury Building. If you’re a film buff, you know the Bradbury. If not, READ HERE.

Bradbury Building Brad Nixon 3447 (640x449)

(Hint: you have to go inside to see the good part. It’s open during regular business hours.)

Right there are three good reasons to head downtown, found nowhere but in La La Land. Walk down to 648 South Broadway and have lunch at the unique, unforgettable Clifton’s Cafeteria, making four. Read about Clifton’s here.

Cliftons Cafeteria Brad Nixon 3453 (640x371)

Harry Potter and Mickey won’t even notice if you take an afternoon off from the theme parks.

Scheduled operation is 6:45 am – 10 pm, 365 days a year. The top location is at California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave. The lower terminal is at 351 S. Hill St. More information at angelsflight.org.  It’s “Angels Flight,” plural , not possessive (this is the City of Angels, if you missed that). Angels Flight is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tell Emma and Ryan I say hi.

If you ride the revived Angels Flight, I’d love to hear from you. Post a comment.

© Brad Nixon 2017. Image from “La La Land” © Summit Entertainment 2017, used for illustration. No reproduction for any commercial purpose without the permission of Summit is allowed.


Responses

  1. I found a new thing to see. Have never known about Angel’s Flight. Looks like fun.

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  2. I had no idea about the Angels Flight, Brad, nor that the Bunker Hill area was home to Victorian mansions. Are there any left at all? Another great stop to mix into your downtown visit is The Last Bookstore. Hope you are well.

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    • I’m being a little inexact. The Victorians are a bit away from Bunker Hill, the Adams Street area. You may very well know them. If not, I’ll come back here with a link to the LA Conservancy, who give a tour we took there many years ago. You know, I’ve never been to the The Last Bookstore, so thanks for reminding me about it. Get downtown so seldom! Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know the Adams Street area well as we are a USC family. A Conservancy tour there would be most interesting! As for The Last Bookstore, there’s a fantastic little Italian place just around the block — Maccheroni Republic — only open for dinner I believe. Hope you guys are well!

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  3. […] After a number of years of closure for safety reasons, Angels Flight began operating again on August 31, 2017, open 365 days a year. Check the Angels Flight website for details. I wrote a blog post about the opening. CLICK HERE to read it. […]

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