Hold on to your hats, Angels Flight will fly once again

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67563 full

In less than a week, Angelenos will once again be able to ride Angels Flight. Downtown L.A.'s century-old funicular will reopen on Thursday after a four-year closure.

During its hiatus, Angels Flight underwent a nearly $5 million rehab, reports the Downtown News. The goal? Bring it up to modern safety standards while restoring it to its classic 1901 form.

"When the public steps on one of these cars, they're stepping back 100 years, literally," said Steve DeWitt, who oversaw the restoration for ACS Infrastructure, the company that will run Angels Flight.

The Angels Flight Railway ferries passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles March, 15, 2010.
The Angels Flight Railway ferries passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles March, 15, 2010. Roby Beck/AFP/Getty Images

He promises that during the restoration, they took great pains to preserve the original design and colors of the stations and trams. That includes finding the perfect shade of orange to paint Sinai and Olivet, the two trams. They also chose not to buff out many of the scratches and dings that the trams have acquired over the last 116 years.

Angels Flight opened in 1901, half a block away from its current location. It was a major tourist attraction but locals also used it to avoid walking up and down steep Bunker Hill.

It's not a long ride. Running less than 300 feet, it bills itself as "the shortest railway in the world."

Angels Flight runs between Hill and Olive streets, connecting various office towers and shopping plazas at the top to Grand Central Market at the bottom. 

A photograph of Angels Flight dated July 21, 1962.
A photograph of Angels Flight dated July 21, 1962. Valley Times Collection / Los Angeles Public Library

Angels Flight has closed a few times, first in 1969. It reopened in 1996 then closed again in 2001 after one car slammed into the other, killing a man and injuring several other people.

It reopened in 2010 but closed again in 2013 due to maintenance problems.

DeWitt says ACS has made major changes to improve the system's safety. Some of them are behind the scenes, like overhauling the motors. Others, you'll see. An evacuation stairway has been added to the hillside and the trams have higher plexiglass end-gates.

The Angels Flight Railway ferries passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles March, 15, 2010.
The Angels Flight Railway ferries passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles March, 15, 2010. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Other than that, you can hop aboard and live out your Hollywood fantasies. 

Angels Flight has been in more than a hundred movies. Most recently, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling shared a kiss on one of its trams in "La La Land."

You can also see it in everything from classic film noir "Kiss Me Deadly" to the 2011 film "The Muppets" to the upcoming season of the Amazon series "Bosch."

Angels Flight has also been an inspiration for writers, most notably John Fante and his 1939 novel "Ask The Dust," about a struggling writer in Depression-era Los Angeles.

You can follow in their footsteps starting August 31. A one-way ride will cost $1 but you can bring that down to 50 cents by showing your TAP card.

Angels Flight with the downtown Los Angeles skyline in the background.
Angels Flight with the downtown Los Angeles skyline in the background. Photo by Ken Chan via Flickr Creative Commons
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