Welcome to the Angels Flight Tribute Site!

Come learn all about The World’s Shortest Railway!

This is a collection of Angels Flight tributes from friends and fans from everywhere on the World Wide Web — from newspapers, blogs, historic sites. Everyone loves Angels Flight, and we wanted to give back some publicity to our friends who took the time and energy to honor us. Thank you, everyone! Enjoy!

And here’s the answer to one of the two most-asked questions we get (“What are your hours?”): We are open every single day of the year, including all weekends and holidays, from 6:45 am until 10 pm — sometimes even later if there are concerts going on at the Cal Plaza Watercourt. And the second question (“How much to ride?”): It’s 50¢ per ride (25¢ for holders of valid Metro Passes), or 5 rides for two dollars.

And we have recorded information for you 24 hours a day at 213-626-1901 (or as it used to be known in the days before area codes, MAdison 6-1901 — “1901” being the year Angels Flight opened.

In the interest of Angels Flight Railway history and the public interest, we here present the original re-opening press release, and a list of the seven original operators of Angels Flight, beginning in 1901:

MONDAY, March 15, 2010
Los Angeles, March 15th, 2010: Dennis R. Luna, chairman of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, announced today that the Angels Flight Railway resumed regular passenger service at 6:45 a.m.

For just 25 cents a ride, Angels Flight provides public transportation between its lower station on Hill Street and California Plaza on Grand Avenue at the top of Bunker Hill. The Railway has been out of service since a 2001 accident.

At a morning briefing, Luna observed: “There has been an outpouring of support to put Angels Flight back in service. Those who again are riding Angels Flight, both local residents and visitors from far and wide, owe their thanks to institutions like the Ahmanson Foundation, Maguire Properties, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the California Cultural and Historical Endowment.” A temporary donor banner adjacent to the Railway recognizes the major donors to the $3.5 million Campaign for Angels Flight. “We only have $197,000 more to raise to fully meet that Campaign goal,” added Luna.

The post-accident restoration was a four-phase process. Phase I, repairing the badly-damaged cars, Olivet and Sinai, was completed in 2002. Phase II, restoring the exteriors of the Station House at the top and the Arch at the bottom of the hill, was completed in 2007. Phase III was the design, manufacture, and installation of an entirely new Drive and Control System for the funicular’s cable, plus state-of-the-art safety improvements. Although expected to be completed by the end of 2007, that Phase III work was not finished until March of 2009. Completion of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) safety reviews became its own Phase IV. On November 20, 2009, the full Commission, meeting in San Francisco, approved Angels Flight’s safety documentation. On March 10, 2010, the CPUC staff authorized Angels Flight to resume public revenue service.

John H. Welborne, President of the Railway, said that –- starting Monday –- Angels Flight will resume its regular operating schedule, opening by 6:45 every morning and running until 10 p.m. every night. “Our operating schedule includes weekends and all holidays . . . the Railway serves its public 365 days a year,” said Welborne. “We plan to keep the one-way passenger fare at 25 cents as long as economically possible,” he added.

Welborne cautioned that Angels Flight passengers might encounter occasional, temporary slow service and daytime closures during the initial weeks of resumed operations. “As the new Drive and Control System experiences its first busy use in regular daily passenger operation, there may be times when the systems’ vendors want to do testing and fine-tuning to maximize its efficiency. We apologize in advance in case there are some short service interruptions during the first several weeks,” Welborne said.

BUILT IN 1901 AND OPERATED TO 1969, THEN 1996 TO 2001
Originally built by engineer and Civil War veteran Colonel J.W. Eddy in 1901, the privately-operated little funicular connected the residential community at the top of Bunker Hill with the commercial and civic center district below, generally between Hill and Main Streets. In 1969, in connection with the Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project, the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), dismantled the Railway and placed its parts in storage. Finally, 27 years later, the CRA completed its rebuilding of Angels Flight. When the funicular reopened in 1996, it was returned to the private sector and now is under the stewardship of the nonprofit Angels Flight Railway Foundation. “We and our successors will work to keep it running for at least another 108 years,” said Luna.

For the restored Angels Flight Railway, the design engineers used a proven funicular design. The restored Railway’s two cars are at the opposite ends of the SAME cable — just like cars on traditional funiculars always have been. The completed new Drive, like the pre-1969 Angels Flight operating equipment, has a second, safety cable attached to each car. Also, in this case (unlike both the original version and unlike the immediately previous CRA-rebuilt version), each of the two cars now has a rail brake. Use of such a brake should not be necessary, however, because the new Drive also has working emergency brakes on each of the two bullwheels. Furthermore, in the unlikely case that the main motor fails, the new Drive has a completely separate and independent evacuation motor. The 2007-2009 engineering improvements, including these redundant safety features and the all-new Drive and Control System, are among the reasons the CPUC staff wrote that it had no major concerns with regard to the safety and security design, construction, and operation of the restored Railway – and authorized resumption of Angels Flight service effective March 10, 2010.

The nonprofit Angels Flight Railway Foundation’s directors are: Dennis R. Luna, attorney at law, Luna & Glushon; John H. Welborne, attorney at law and President of the Angels Flight Railway; Michael E. Alexander, Executive & Artistic Director, Grand Performances at California Plaza; Robin Kramer, former Chief of Staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Brenda A. Levin, FAIA, President and Principal, Levin & Associates Architects; and Adele M. Yellin, President, The Yellin Company (owner of the Grand Central Market).

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Beginning at 9 a.m., adjacent to the Angels Flight Railway Lower Station on Hill Street, there will be press availability for interviews and questions of:

Dennis R. Luna, Chairman of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation.

John H. Welborne, President of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation.

Christopher Eddy Cherryholmes. Mr. Cherryholmes is the great-great-great grandson of Colonel James Ward Eddy, who created Angels Flight in 1901 and operated the Railway in its early years. Mr. Cherryholmes and his family still have memorabilia from Colonel Eddy.

Robert Moreland. Mr. Moreland, age 86, is the son of Helen and Lester Moreland, owners of Angels Flight from 1952 – 1962. Robert Moreland often helped his parents with the operation and maintenance of the Railway.

The Angels Flight Railway Foundation is the seventh private operator of the Railway, having assumed stewardship in 1996. The following describes the Railway’s ownership history.

1901 – Col. J.W. Eddy and the Creation of Angels Flight Colonel J.W. (James Ward) Eddy was born in 1832 and served in the U.S. Civil War. Today, Col. Eddy rests in peace at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Col. Eddy was born in Java, New York, in 1832, and he died in California in 1914.

The two Angels Flight Railway cars have been here in Los Angeles since 1901 (1905 if dated from the rebuilding that resulted in these exact vehicles). That rebuilding was in connection with Col. Eddy’s constructing a trestle over Clay Street so the cars would be going up a constant grade. Clay Street is only a memory now. The City of Los Angeles removed much of the Railway’s old neighborhood — actually, ALL of the old neighborhood . . . except for Angels Flight (moved several hundred feet south). Even Bunker Hill Avenue is gone, only a memory on Bunker Hill.

In 1901, the Third Street Tunnel opened beneath Bunker Hill. So did the Angels Flight Railway. In May of 1901, Col. J.W. Eddy had sought and received City Council approval to build a funicular by the tunnel. “Funicular” is from a Latin word, “funiculus,” which means a slender rope or cord that connects. A funicular is an incline railway. Col. Eddy started building Angels Flight on August 2, 1901. The Railway opened December 31, 1901. On the Railway’s 1901 Opening Day, more than 2,000 people rode between Hill and Olive Streets.

August 2 to December 31? Try a construction project in Los Angeles in 120 days today!

Subsequent Remodeling in 1908, Then a Second Owner in 1912 In addition to the 1905 remodeling, the Railway benefited from the addition of a new Station House and the Hill Street Arch in 1908. Angels Flight passed to its second private owner in 1912 when Col. J.W. Eddy sold to the Funding Company of Los Angeles.

A Third Owner in 1914 The Funding Company of Los Angeles, the 1912 purchaser of Angels Flight, sold the Railway in 1914. The 1914 purchaser was Continental Securities Company. Engineer Robert M. Moore began service as Railway general manager that year. Robert Moore served the Railway and its passengers for 38 years, from 1914 to 1952.

The Railway’s Manager Becomes the Fourth Owner in 1946 In 1946, engineer Robert W. Moore purchased the Railway from the Continental Securities Company (owner since 1914).

The Fifth Owner Takes Over in 1952 In 1952, engineer Robert W. Moore retired and sold the Railway to Lester B. Moreland and Byron Linville. In 1953, Lester B. Moreland’s family purchased banker Byron Linville’s interest in the Railway, becoming sole stockholder. Byron Linville was a prominent banker at Security First National Bank who had developed affection for Angels Flight. Banker Linville shared a common interest in the workings and history of the Flight with engineer Moreland.

Lester B. Moreland was an electrical engineer with the Department of Water and Power who parked on Bunker Hill so he could ride Angels Flight on his way to and from his office downtown. Regularly riding the Flight, Lester Moreland got to know Robert Moore, General Manager since 1914 (and owner since 1946).

Mr. Moore realized that Mr. Moreland had a real interest in the Railway’s preservation and was fully capable of operating it. When Robert W. Moore decided to retire, he chose to sell the Railway to Messrs. Moreland and Linville, as noted previously. The Railway was sold to them on August 23, 1952. The Moreland legacy of Railway stewardship lasted until the City’s redevelopment agency forced a sale to the City in 1962.

The Sixth Private Operator Takes the Reins from the City in 1962 The alternative to the Moreland’s selling to the City was condemnation — to allow the City to “improve” Bunker Hill with “urban renewal.” Condemnation is the same as “taking by eminent domain.” After the City’s redevelopment agency forced the Morelands to sell the private Railway to the City in 1962, the City then hired another private entity to run it. The City made Sidney Smith –- the Oliver & Williams Elevator Company –- operator of the Railway. The Oliver & Williams Elevator Company ran the Railway from 1962 to 1969 and was the Railway’s sixth private operator. While Sidney Smith and his company ran the Railway in the 1960s, Bunker Hill’s old buildings were demolished all around it.

And then . . . late on Sunday, May 18, 1969, Sinai and Olivet took their last trips on their tracks at the Third Street tunnel location. The next day, Monday, May 19, 1969, dismantling of the Angels Flight Railway got underway.

The two cars were hauled off to storage at a CRA/LA (Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles) warehouse . . . for what everyone was told would be “a few” years. The Arch, the Station House, the drinking fountain, and other artifacts were taken to an outdoor storage yard in Gardena. For most of the next 27 years (1969-1996), the two cars were just lying in a dark warehouse.

Part of the Railway’s history is directly related to the Bicentennial of the founding of the City of Los Angeles. In the early 1980s, leaders of the Los Angeles 200 Committee (the group planning the City’s Bicentennial Celebration) learned details of the moribund state of the Angels Flight restoration. The role of the Los Angeles 200 Committee in the restoration of the Angels Flight Railway can be found in the postings and elsewhere.

In 1991, through the efforts of the Los Angeles Conservancy and others, including the volunteer Angels Flight Coordinating Committee chaired by lawyer Dennis R. Luna (later Chairman of the Board of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation), the City finally began to fulfill its Angels Flight restoration promise made in the late 1960s.

(Today’s Angels Flight Railway Foundation has Adele Yellin as Chairman of the Board and Hal Bastian as President. Jerry Givens and Nyal W. Leslie are now on the Angels Flight Railway Foundation board. Recent former board members include Michael E. Alexander, Robin Kramer, Brenda Levin, FAIA, Dennis R. Luna, and John H. Welborne.)

Design work for the Angels Flight restoration and reconstruction — under City auspices — was underway in 1993 and 1994. Most of the physical restoration and reconstruction activity took place in 1995 and was completed in 1996. It also became clear during this period that California Plaza’s developer was not going to operate Angels Flight as originally planned. Angels Flight always had operated privately, and that was the CRA/LA’s plan — to return the Railway to the private sector. Because the Bunker Hill developer elected to terminate its development rights, that meant there was no private entity to take back and run Angels Flight.

The Seventh Private Operator Runs Angels Flight Today So, the Angels Flight Railway Foundation was created. The Foundation stepped up and assumed the rights and obligations of the Bunker Hill developer with respect to the little Railway. The Railway Foundation became the seventh private operator of Angels Flight. From the time of its gala reopening on February 24, 1996, Angels Flight has continued in private operation.

In summary, the seven private operators of the Angels Flight Railway are:

In 1901, Col. Eddy, then: Funding Company of Los Angeles in 1912; Continental Securities Company in 1914; Robert W. Moore in 1946; Lester B. Moreland and Byron Linville in 1952; Oliver & Williams Elevator Company (after City condemnation) in 1962; and now the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, since 1996 the seventh private operator of the Angels Flight™ Railway.

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