Originally known as the Los Angeles Incline Railway, it was the imagination and perseverance of Colonel James Ward Eddy that led to its construction. Opening in 1901, it connected the shopping district of downtown Los Angeles to the then upscale residential district of Bunker Hill.
“The World’s Shortest Railway” changed ownership a number of times during the ensuing decades. The grand Victorian homes which stood proudly on Bunker Hill in the teens had gradually become rundown by the 1940s. The homes and buildings on either side of the railway in the top photograph were gradually replaced with boarding houses and apartments, as shown in the photograph to the left from 1950.
In 1959 Angels Flight was scheduled to be demolished as part of the Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project. Due to the tenacity of a dedicated group of supporters, Angels Flight was designated a Historic Cultural Landmark and the city dismantled it in 1969 to make way for office buildings and the Angelus Plaza senior condo complex promising to rebuild it in a few years. It was stored away in a Gardena scrapyard.
Those few years turned into 27 years, to be exact. Finally, in 1996 Angels Flight reopened in its present location near 4th and Hill Streets directly across from the Grand Central Market. Retaining 60% of its original materials, it operated until 2001 when an accident caused it’s closure. Construction of a new braking system and other updates were made, and after many false starts over the past few years Angels Flight will reopen once again.