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Los Angeles’s beloved railroad Angels Flight reopens

Angels Flight, Los Angeles’s beloved little railroad, is reopening to the public after being closed for four years.

The funky little funicular that carried Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling to the top of downtown Los Angeles in the film La La Land is scheduled to reopen to the general public on Thursday morning.

After a ceremonial first ride by the mayor, the transit system the city proudly calls the world’s shortest public railroad will resume doing what it first did on New Year’s Eve 1901, ferrying riders up and down the city’s stunningly steep Bunker Hill.

Angels Flight, the small train that carried Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling to the top of downtown Los Angeles in the film La La Land is scheduled to reopen to the general public on Thursday morning 

The 298-foot funicular, closed since a 2013 derailment, is scheduled to reopen Thursday just in time to ferry thousands of holiday weekend visitors up and down downtown's steep Bunker Hill, something it first did on New Year's Eve 1901

The 298-foot funicular, closed since a 2013 derailment, is scheduled to reopen Thursday just in time to ferry thousands of holiday weekend visitors up and down downtown’s steep Bunker Hill, something it first did on New Year’s Eve 1901

The 298-foot funicular, or cliff railway, was closed four years ago after a derailment left a handful of passengers perched precariously above a downtown street for hours

The 298-foot funicular, or cliff railway, was closed four years ago after a derailment left a handful of passengers perched precariously above a downtown street for hours

The 298-foot funicular, or cliff railway, operates by using the counterbalancing weights of its cars to pull one up while the other descends.

It was closed four years ago after a derailment left a handful of passengers perched precariously above a downtown street for hours.

No one was hurt, but a subsequent investigation revealed numerous safety flaws and the state Public Utilities Commission shut the railway down.

As part of renovations before its reopening, an emergency ramp was installed next to the railroad tracks so that if cars break down in mid-run, as they did in 2013, firefighters won’t have to rescue the passengers this time. 

To the surprise of the public and the commission – which didn’t know the funicular would be used in La La Land – Stone and Gosling climbed aboard for a scene that depicted a romantic nighttime ride.

By the time the Oscar-nominated film was released last year, officials were considering plans to reopen Angels Flight.

The state Public Utilities Commission had no idea that the railway would be used in La La Land until Stone and Gosling climbed aboard for a scene that depicted a romantic ride

The state Public Utilities Commission had no idea that the railway would be used in La La Land until Stone and Gosling climbed aboard for a scene that depicted a romantic ride

Roundtrips cost a penny when Angels Flight opened in 1901. For the next 68 years, it carried tens of millions of people from Bunker Hill's stately Victorian mansions to popular downtown shopping areas. It's pictured above in 1945

Roundtrips cost a penny when Angels Flight opened in 1901. For the next 68 years, it carried tens of millions of people from Bunker Hill’s stately Victorian mansions to popular downtown shopping areas. It’s pictured above in 1945

The railway, seen in it's original location next to the 3rd Street Tunnel in downtown Los Angeles in 1945, holds a special place in the hearts of LA residents of all ages who will tell you countless stories of coming downtown to ride it during their childhood

The railway, seen in it’s original location next to the 3rd Street Tunnel in downtown Los Angeles in 1945, holds a special place in the hearts of LA residents of all ages who will tell you countless stories of coming downtown to ride it during their childhood

But the movie seemed to give them added incentive. While it was closed, the public had to use an adjacent steep, smelly, trash-strewn stairway. 

‘La La Land was the last straw,’ laughed local historian and preservation activist Richard Schave. ‘It was like, ‘OK, we have to get a yes on this now’.’

Schave and his wife, Kim Cooper, had launched a popular petition drive to reopen the railway after an ugly graffiti attack damaged its two antique rail cars in 2015.

‘I’m thrilled to see it back again,’ said 71-year-old Los Angeles periodontist Gordon Pattison, who like countless other Los Angeles natives has countless childhood memories of taking a scenic ride along the 298-foot railway’s narrow-gauge track.

‘I think the first time I rode it was in my mother’s arms. In 1946,’ said Pattison, who plans to ride it again Thursday.

The railway holds a special place in the hearts of LA residents of all ages who will tell you countless stories of coming downtown to ride it during their childhood. 

‘I was 5 years old,’ said Ron Lozano, who still vividly recalls the short trip as being his first thrill ride. ‘I didn’t get to Disneyland until I was 17.’ 

Los Angeles periodontist Gordon Pattison, 71, holds a photo his father took of the original Angels Flight railroad, as he visits the railway on Wednesday, a day before its re-opening

Los Angeles periodontist Gordon Pattison, 71, holds a photo his father took of the original Angels Flight railroad, as he visits the railway on Wednesday, a day before its re-opening

As part of renovations before its reopening, an emergency ramp was installed next to the railroad tracks so that if cars break down in mid-run, as they did in 2013, firefighters won't have to rescue the passengers this time.

As part of renovations before its reopening, an emergency ramp was installed next to the railroad tracks so that if cars break down in mid-run, as they did in 2013, firefighters won’t have to rescue the passengers this time.

Roundtrip rides on Angels Flight will cost $1 when service resumes, and those who use transit cards will pay just 50 cents 

Roundtrip rides on Angels Flight will cost $1 when service resumes, and those who use transit cards will pay just 50 cents 

The little railway was still a must-take ride for tourists and locals alike when it closed in 1969 for a decades-long redevelopment project that saw Bunker Hill's mansions replaced by high-rise office buildings, hotels, luxury apartments and museums

The little railway was still a must-take ride for tourists and locals alike when it closed in 1969 for a decades-long redevelopment project that saw Bunker Hill’s mansions replaced by high-rise office buildings, hotels, luxury apartments and museums

Virginia Baies, an operator for Angels Flight railroad sits in the operators booth during test runs prior to opening day in downtown Los Angeles

Virginia Baies, an operator for Angels Flight railroad sits in the operators booth during test runs prior to opening day in downtown Los Angeles

‘It was heartbreaking when it shut down,’ said the engineer who for years worked in a downtown skyscraper overlooking the tracks.  

Roundtrips cost a penny when Angels Flight opened in 1901. For the next 68 years, it carried tens of millions of people from Bunker Hill’s stately Victorian mansions to popular downtown shopping areas.

Roundtrip rides will cost $1 when service resumes, and those who use transit cards will pay just 50 cents.

The little railway was still a must-take ride for tourists and locals alike when it closed in 1969 for a decades-long redevelopment project that saw Bunker Hill’s mansions replaced by high-rise office buildings, hotels, luxury apartments and museums.

Four years after it reopened in 1996 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It was closed again in 2001, however, after a failure of the counterbalancing system caused a crash that killed one rider and injured several others.

The railway finally reopened in 2010, only to be closed three years later after riders had to be rescued by firefighters.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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