Angels Flight railway is seen in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. At a news conference Wednesday, March 1, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the railroad's antique wooden cars should be back in service by Labor Day. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
World's shortest railroad chugs back to life
March 07, 2017
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Angels Flight is a beloved little railroad. It is in Los Angeles. The railroad was seen in the hit musical "La La Land." Now it's almost ready for its close-up.
The narrow-gauge railroad ran for more than a hundred years. It hauled people 298 feet up and down the city's steep Bunker Hill. It was shut down in 2013. That was after a series of mishaps.
Mayor Eric Garcetti has said those issues are being fixed. The railroad's antique wooden cars are named Sinai and Olivet. They should be back in service by early September. They'll be operated by a public-private partnership. It is between the nonprofit Angels Flight Foundation and the private company ACS Infrastructure Development.
"As anyone who has seen 'La La Land' can tell you, dreams do still come true here in Los Angeles," Garcetti said excitedly. There were dozens of cheering Angels Flight fans crowded together to hear his announcement March 1.
The railroad's rebirth has been planned for months. But it may have gotten an unexpected boost. That is when moviegoers saw Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling ride happily in one of the cars in "La La Land." Many viewers took to social media. They wanted to ask why they couldn't ride, too.
That scene was just one of several film shoots the little railroad has appeared in, said John Wellborne. He is past chairman of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation. But, he added with a chuckle, "It got a lot more attention than we anticipated."
Some work still needs to be done before the cars can move again.
That includes upgrading its funicular system. It is where the two cars' counterbalancing weights allow one to be pulled up safely while the other is lowered. An emergency ramp must also be installed next to the railroad tracks. If the cars break down in mid-run firefighters won't have to rescue the passengers this time. This is what happened in 2013.
Angels Flight is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It holds a special place in the hearts of LA residents. Many tell stories of coming downtown to ride it during their childhood.
"I was 5 years old," said Ron Lozano. He vividly recalls the short trip as being his first thrill ride. "I didn't get to Disneyland until I was 17.
Angels Flight opened on New Year's Eve 1901. It took residents from Bunker Hill's stately mansions down to one of the city's best shopping districts. Rides cost a penny.
It operated until 1969. Then it was shut down as the neighborhood underwent redevelopment.
It reopened in 1996. This was just as the area was beginning to undergo a rebirth. For the next few years, it carried thousands of tourists and office workers from the skyscrapers, museums and fashionable hotels. These had sprung up on Bunker Hill to the Grand Central Market below.
It was shut down after a tragic system failure. One car was sent crashing into the other in 2001. A passenger died.
The railroad reopened in 2010. It closed three years later after a derailment stranded riders.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why would someone want to take such a short ride?
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