Angel’s Flight is an attraction that opened in 1901 in Downtown LA, across from where Grand Central Market would later be opened. A funicular (slanted/cliff side) railway, it is designed to transport pedestrians between Lower Downtown Los Angeles and Bunker Hill. Once it opened between Olive St. and Hill St., it continuously served pedestrians who did not want to walk up/downhill. However, there were unplanned logistical issues with the ride.
According to Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham, although Angel’s Flight has nostalgic value, it never really fit into the character or structure of Los Angeles. Dating to when the railroads allowed Los Angeles to flourish, the city and greater LA county had been an area spread far out that relied heavily on methods of transportation (e.g., trains, cars) to get around. Meanwhile, Angel’s Flight by design makes more sense in a densely packed city in which there will be millions of pedestrians living in the city, ready to use it for commute, for example. The idea and charm of Angel’s Flight are nice, and it would be enjoyable as an attraction, but it has no real, practical function existing in Los Angeles (77).
These shortcomings were proving as time went on. It never got the amount of public use the developers had initially expected because Angelenos simply prefer their cars. Eventually, in 1969, the ride was moved down the street, and subsequently closed on two occasions due to safety concerns. Today, it sits idly, closed to the public. I’ve visited twice, and both times, I was met with sadness at those closed bar gates. Maybe someday soon, I’ll be able to ride it for the first time.
Banham, R. (1971) Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. (2009 ed.) University of California Press. Berkeley, CA.