Almost overlooked because of the holidays was the 108th birthday last Thursday for Angels Flight, the tiny cable railway opened in 1901 to shuttle passengers from L.A.’s central business district up the steep hill to the posh Bunker Hill residences above. Angels Flight ferried riders between Third and Hill and Third and Olive streets for more than 60 years until it was closed and dismantled in 1969 to make way for redevelopment of what had become a rundown area into a place of high-rise condos, museums and offices. Angels Flight was repositioned to its current spot a half block south of the original location and reopened as a tourist attraction on Feb. 24, 1996. But following a fatal accident in 2001 it closed again for investigations and subsequent redesign.
Following years of testing and a string of “opening soon” announcements, Angels Flight may actually be getting close to receiving riders again. The mechanical and electrical systems have been repaired and the train awaits clearance from the California Public Utilities Commission, according to officials at both the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency and Angels Flight Railway, the nonprofit group overseeing the restoration. Once that happens, the historic railway can begin operation.