Flyin’ With the Angels

Ok, not really. But my son and I did check out Angel’s Flight Railway in downtown Los Angeles this weekend!

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Honestly, I feel like a major idiot for the fact that I just recently discovered that Angel’s Flight even existed. I have forayed into the depths of downtown LA many a time and it has only now come to my attention that this adorable and historic railway is sandwiched right between two of my most popular Metro Redline stops: Civic Center and Pershing Square. I mean, it’s walking distance from Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and El Pueblo for Chris’sakes! How did I miss it?

Now that I’m done reprimanding myself for apparently never having walked down the right stretch of Hill Street Los Angeles, let’s talk about “The Shortest Railway in the World”. While it is a really neat and cheap thing to do here in LA, I have to be the bad guy here and point out that this is a lie!  At 298 feet long, Angel’s Flight is actually 2 feet longer than the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa. And as an Iowa native, I gotta be true to my midwest pride and put Angel’s Flight in its place. Take that, Los Angeles! You’re number 2! You’re number 2!

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Boy, I keep getting sidetracked on this post today. Oh well, it’s my blog and I’m in a weird mood and I can do what I want!

Alright, getting back on track (no pun intended, although that was a good one!):

Angel’s Flight was constructed in 1901, back in Bunker Hill’s heyday. As much as downtown Los Angeles might get snubbed by the rich and the famous today, there was a time when it was the place to be. And because we all know that rich people are lazy and don’t like to walk up hills (this is a scientific fact), Angel’s Flight was born. The two railcars (which are named Olivet and Sinai) proudly transported the pinkies out citizens up and down the slope between Hill and Olive streets.

Unfortunately, in the 1969, Angel’s Flight was dismantled due to “urban renewal”. Then in the early ’90s, Angel’s Flight got a makeover from the “Wash & Brush-up Company” (see: “The Wizard of Oz”) and was relocated one-half block south of its original location. Now it is directly across from Grand Central Market.

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And since my hubby had another writer’s group meeting in the Little Tokyo area, my kid and I decided to take a stroll up to Hill Street and ride the railway ourselves. Angel’s Flight is open 365 days a year and it only costs 50 cents to ride (one way) or 25 cents one way if you have a metro pass. So why not?

Of course my son is a ball of chaotic energy so he didn’t want to ride the train up the hill (I guess that’s because we’re not rich so he isn’t lazy and doesn’t hate walking up hills). So we trotted up the stairs adjacent to the railway and stopped off to check out the view from Angel’s Knoll (you may have seen this park in movies like “500 Days of Summer”) before proceeding on. And because the California Plaza Water Court is right behind Angel’s Flight, we checked that out a bit, too.

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From “500 Days of Summer”

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At last, we reached our ultimate destination: the Angel’s Flight ticket booth. Unfortunately, all I had was a $20 and the operator was not amused that he had to give me 19 $1 bills as change, but that’s life!

As we took our ride down the hill (there were only two other people in the car with us), we passed the car going up and I pointed out to my son that it was packed with passengers. Obviously the whole point is to avoid having to walk UP! But he just laughed.

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When we got off, we walked across the street to Grand Central Market, checked out their wares, picked up a smoothie at Tropical Zone Ice Cream & Juice Bar, and walked over Chinatown to do some more exploring before my husband got out of his meeting.

All in all, a very pleasant experience. If you’re ever in the area and have 50 cents on you, be sure to ride on Los Angeles’ cheapest attraction and enjoy the view from the top of the hill!

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