After years on the ground, Angels Flight reopens

A shot of Angels Flight railway on the morning of Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, its grand re-opening after a four-year closure and nearly $5 million renovation. Meghan McCarty Carino/KPCC

Angels Flight reopened Thursday morning following a four-year closure and a $5 million renovation.

The funky funicular is billed as "the shortest railway in the world,” and a one-way trip costs just $1.

KPCC's transportation reporter Megan McCarty Carino, attended the grand re-opening of Angels Flight and had a chance to ride the rails Thursday morning. She called it a "symbol of old L.A.," one with "a storied history."

Angels Flight began taking passengers up and down Bunker Hill in 1901.

It was a major downtown L.A. tourist attraction for decades. It has been closed on-and-off since the 1960s, but the latest renovation got underway after one of its two cars derailed in 2013.


In advance of its grand re-opening, Gordon Pattison lined up for a ride.

"I've been looking forward to this ride for a long time," he told KPCC. "My first ride was in 1946 in my mother's arms when I was a little tiny kid. I've ridden it hundreds, maybe thousands of times... I'm so glad it's back."

At the ribbon-cutting, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said, "It has been a long ride for this short railway but today we are confident that we have done this the right way. We have rebuilt this railway in a way that will be safe for passengers, safe for our city and that will help promote a great Los Angeles to everybody."

Angels Flight has a special place in cinema history. It has appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows.

Most recently, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling shared a kiss on one of its trams in "La La Land." You can see it in everything from the classic film noir "Kiss Me Deadly" to the 2011 film "The Muppets" to the upcoming season of the Amazon detective 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.