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DispL.A. Case #56: Angels Flight
The history of Los Angeles as told through 232 objects.
Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781. Between now and the 232nd anniversary, we are gathering the stories behind iconic objects that help explain our city. Los Angeles is older than Chicago, Atlanta or Washington, D.C. In fact, when L.A.’s founders were gathering at El Pueblo, New York City was still occupied by the British army. We have a long story to tell, let’s take a look back and see where the city came from. Feel free to add to this exhibition. Email your ideas to [email protected]
The destruction of Bunker Hill was well documented. The 1960’s disintegration of the once-ritzy neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles is captured in photographs, newsreels, and endless stories. As the slow, sad end turned the apartments, the houses, and the streets back into dust, Olivet (shown here) and Sinai, the twin rail cars of Angels Flight, remained the one bright spot in that orgy of destruction. The world’s shortest railroad, which ferried passengers up and down the hill from 1901 to 1969, connected downtown’s business and entertainment center to its tony residential district. On May 18, 1969 so much of the hill was gone that the trains stopped running and went into storage with a promise to return once the redevelopment was complete. Twenty-seven years later the cars were restored and returned to a new spot in the old neighborhood. Today, the equation is flipped as downtown loft dwellers, living in what were once banks and fancy department stores, ride up the hill to jobs in high rises, or to visit cultural institutions or hear music at California Plaza.
Photography by Leonard Auslender
“Angels Flight” and the images of the Angels Flight® Railway, cars, and buildings are trademarks and copyrights of the Angels Flight® Railway Company.