Established in 1901, the Angels Flight railway has carried millions of Angelenos up and down the steep incline of Bunker Hill. Though the 315-foot trip only lasts thirty seconds, it is believed that Angels Flight has carried more passengers per mile than any other railway in the world, making it not only the shortest in length, but also the most traveled. Despite its popularity, the Angels Flight line has faced its fair share of setbacks. The original railway was forced to close in 1969 as the surrounding area faced heavy commercialization. The famous orange trolley carts were kept in storage for twenty-seven years until the line reopened in 1996 - this time, just half a block south from the original site.
For the most part, the railway suffered few technical malfunctions until 2001, when a serious accident killed one passenger and seriously injured a few others. The National Transportation Safety Board deemed a “design failure” as the cause, and the historic line remained closed for the following nine years.
It reopened to much fanfare in March 2010 and then shut back down after a minor derailment in 2013 and has been shuttered ever since, falling victim to vandals.
Today, the counterbalanced cars, named Olivet and Sinai, are being repaired and restored to their original state.
Update June 2017: Construction scaffolding is up and the stations and cars are being repainted. Angels Flight Railway will officially reopen by Labor Day 2017.
Update September 2017: After having to huff and puff up the steep steps of Bunker Hill, Los Angeles pedestrians can relax after Angels Flight reopened on Labor Day 2017.
Visit Los Angeles withAtlas Obscura Trips
L.A. Science Weekend: Natural History and Space
Join New York Times Journeys and Atlas Obscura for three days of scientific learning in Los Angeles, focused on natural history and zoology or space and aviation. This two-track program includes panels, exclusive visits and special access to scientists and venues to get up close to everything from telescopes and taxidermy to dinosaur skeletons and space artifacts.