Monday, August 20, 2012

Angeles Flight Los Angeles Pictorial History

 In 1895 Hill street was located in a sleepy residential neighborhood. Just beyond the intersection of 3rd and Hill Street was an un -landscaped hill. Perched on top of that hill resided very wealthy Los Angeles dignitaries who lived in newly constructed opulent Victorian mansions. The neighborhood was affectionately called "Bunker Hill."
The whole scene changed dramatically when a small funicular railway was constructed to connect Hill Street with Olive Street.
The over all result was a more built up little neighborhood just outside the big city.
Built in 1901 with financing from Colonel J.W Eddy as the Los Angeles Incline Railway, Angels Flight began at the west corner of Hill Street at Third and ran for two blocks uphill to Olive Street. Angels Flight was built to transport residents of Bunker Hill to the down town shopping area, with the foresight of installing benches to take advantage of te beautiful view of downtown, the Pacific Ocean, and the lovely green parks that were new to the city of Los Anglels. As one car ascended, the other descended, carried down by gravity. An archway at the Hill Street entrance was labeled "Angeles Flight" in 1912 and this became its official name when the Funding Company of California purchased the railway from its founders.


Bunker Hill was still a suburb in this photo and retained its exclusive characteristics through the end of World War I, but during the 1920s the increased urban growth fed by an extensive streetcar system, resulted in its wealthy residents leaving for more privacy in Pasadena neighborhoods. Bunker Hill's houses were increasingly sub-divided to accommodate renters and the once glorious mansions were rapidly being run down. Bunker Hill would eventually become urban and over crowded.

Almost ten years after it was constructed, the large Victorian home at the upper left is already gone and replaced by a large building, and the rail tracks were raised and added to make the overall incline steeper.
The appearance has gone from residential railway to a city transport system.

By World War II the Pasadena Freeway was built to bring shoppers to downtown Los Angeles, and was simultaneously driving more residents out. Additional post-war freeway construction left downtown comparatively empty of both people and services. The once-grand Victorian mansions of Bunker Hill were being rented out to numerous families at the same time and crumbling from decades of neglect.

In 1955, Los Angeles city planners decided that Bunker Hill required a massive slum-clearance project. Angeles Flight and Bunker Hill had been seriously run down since the 1940s, and the plan was to demolish the outdated funicular and remove every structure that was connected to the old Angeles Flight and Bunker Hill.
The railway was closed in 1969 when the Bunker Hill area underwent a redevelopment which destroyed and displaced a community of almost 25,000 working-class families renting rooms in architecturally beautiful but run-down buildings, to a modern district of high-rise commercial buildings and modern apartment complexes. After much bickering and protesting, the city agreed to restore Angels Flight after a significant portion of the new buildings were completed. The archway and the cable cars were placed in storage in anticipation of the railway's restoration and reopening.

The top of Bunker Hill was cleared of its houses and then flattened as the first stage of the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project to populate Bunker Hill with modern plazas and buildings. Developers built some of the tallest skyscrapers in Los Angeles to take advantage of the area's existing dense zoning. In approving such projects, the city sought to project a modern, sophisticated image.
The project is the longest redevelopment project in Los Angeles history, and is scheduled to end some time after 2015. The majority of the skyscrapers on the old Bunker Hill were built in the 1980s, with a new skyscraper or two being finished nearly every year. However, the momentum died down in the 1990s during a dip in the economy.

 After almost 30 years in storage, the funicular was rebuilt and reopened in 1996 one half block south of the original site. Although the original cars, Sinai and Olivet, were used, a new track and haulage system was designed and built, a redesign which resulted in sad consequences five years later.
In 2001 a passenger was killed and several others were injured when Sinai was approaching the upper station and reversed direction suddenly and accelerated downhill out of contol to hit Olivet near the lower terminus. An investigation was condicted and it was determined that the cause was improper design and construction of the railway system. Unlike the original, the new system used two separate systems for each car with the two systems connected to each other, it was the failure of this gear train which was the immediate cause of the accident as it disconnected Sinai from Olivet's balancing load and from the service brake.
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 Hollywood Hill Street tour

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