Angels Flight

In a Los Angeles Times article from November 21, 1901, titled Up Again, Down Again the components of the new Angels Flight railway system were detailed. It stated that J. W. Eddy had been granted a franchise to run the railway by the city council in May and Eddy estimated the train would be up and running by December 1 since no serious problems or obstacles had occurred and none were expected. The Times article mentioned a terraced park, located at the top of the hill, which was nearly complete “and what was for so many years a weed patch and a dumping ground for garbage and tin cans is rapidly being converted into a sightly little park.”

The two cars, which were named Sinai and Olivet, had arrived the previous week and each car had a seating capacity of eleven but could carry twenty.* The name of the railway was a nod to the Spanish translation of the city’s name: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula.

A ten horse-power motor had just arrived and it would be placed in the motor-house located at the top of the railway. The motorman would also be situated in the motor-house and would “send the cars speeding up or down by means of levers.” According to the timetables it would take one and a half minutes to complete the ride each way and the fare was one cent.

Opening day was December 31, 1901, and it was filled with excitement and some disappointment. The Times reporter stated that the concrete steps beside the funicular were filled with people awaiting the start of the railway’s run and “a large crowd” was on the platform at the top of the hill. When the motorman moved his lever both cars moved in opposite directions and the expectations of the crowd on the platform were voiced when the reporter heard whispers of, “The Mayor is coming.”

This was due to the fact that Col. Eddy had distributed flyers announcing Mayor Snyder would attend the grand opening and would be on the first car. When the first car reached the platform “a low moan of disappointment was wrung from the crowd” because his honor, the mayor, did not debark. Col. Eddy addressed the crowd and said, “I will have him here next trip.”

When the second car chugged up the hill people were still excited but only a Board of Education member and “a sporty individual” exited from this car. No Mayor Snyder. The third car to the platform contained an older gentleman and two ladies; one in an ill-fitting dress according to the reporter. The fourth car: “untitled citizens.”

“As the fifth car came up Col. Eddy was nervously wringing his hands and hoarsely ordered the camera obscura at the top of the tower opened to appease the heart-broken multitude. But at last, when hope was beginning to wither, there came another car in which stood Mayor Snyder holding on by the dashboard with one hand and his other hand back to his pistol pocket prepared to shoot the cable in two if the car showed any symptoms of shooting over the hill and into space. The crowd cheered and clapped hands and the Mayor cautiously let go (of) the dashboard and waved his hat.”

Opening day was free for anyone who wanted to ride. Col. Eddy did place a donation box near the motor-house for citizens who wanted to show their “public spirit” and deftly mentioned the slot on the box was the exact size of a twenty dollar coin. Eddy later reported a prankster inserted a check into the box for $1 million dollars signed by the Queen of Bavaria.

On the upper level you pay for your ride on the opposite side of this structure.

The Hill Street entrance across from the Grand Central Market.

Col. Eddy from Men of California 1900-1902.

Also from Men of California 1900-1902. According to Wikipedia his nickname was “Pinky.”

An advertisement inside the car.

I bought this old postcard because of the arch with the angel. This was the previous location of Angels Flight.

*In November of 1903 there was an article in the Los Angeles Times titled Sinai Comes Back to the Mountain. The article detailed how Angels Flight’s track had been rebuilt over the previous three weeks and now it was all on an “even grade.” The Sinai car had been sent out for refurbishing and had arrived back at the station – pulled by “four perspiring truck horses.” The car’s seating had been reconfigured to accommodate twenty-eight passengers along with room for twelve more — standing.


Mayor Snyder’s ascent of the “Angeles’ Flight.” (1902, January 1). Los Angeles Times, p. 12.

Sinai comes back to the mountain. (1903, November 17). Los Angeles Times, p. A1.

Up again, down again. (1901, November 21). Los Angeles Times, p. 11.

Wolfe, W. E. (1901). Men of California 1900-1902. San Francisco: Pacific Art Company.


Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on September 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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