Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Angels Flight

About four months ago I started “reading” books by the crime-fiction author Michael Connelly.  The audiobooks I’ve downloaded from the library have helped pass the time while walking the dog.  They are easy, but entertaining, reads.

Connelly began his career as a journalist and eventually ended up writing for the Los Angeles Times before becoming a novelist.  His books, which all take place in Los Angeles County, are fairly sequential and have recurring characters – my favorite being Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch.  With L.A. as the backdrop, it’s almost as fun to read about the setting’s well-known landmarks, restaurants, and neighborhoods – of course, in the book a crime has usually taken place nearby.  A couple of weeks ago I finished “Angels Flight”.  The story takes place in the Bunker Hill/historic downtown district.  In the scheme of things, LA is such a young city, but this neighborhood played a big part in our early history, dating back to the mid 1800s.  Other than coming downtown for concerts or sporting events, I haven’t been to this area in years.  While reading “Angels Flight” I felt nostalgic for a visit. 

My friend (and work husband) Jason and I took a field trip to Historic Downtown just last week while still on Spring Break.  We decided to drive into North Hollywood to leave the car at the train station and pick up the Red Line Subway to Pershing Square.  Unfortunately when we arrived there was not a single parking place in the station
parking lot.  We drove around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes looking for street parking…nope.  So, like most Angelenos, we stayed in our car and just drove into the city.  So instead of paying $1.50 to take the train, we paid $16 to park in the lot of the train station at Pershing Square.  No wonder public transportation isn’t catching on here!

Armed with my big-girl camera, we headed out for our historic tour…
View of the Gas Company Tower, US Bank Tower, and the AT&T Tower

Angels Flight (the book’s namesake) was our first stop. 
Angels Flight is the “shortest railroad in the world”.  It is actually a funicular that was designed to carry passengers up and down the steep incline between downtown (Hill St.) and Bunker Hill which was a fashionable residential district.

There are two cars – Sinai and Olivet. 

It costs just 50 cents to ride to the top.  We took Sinai.

I think I was a little girl when I last rode Angels Flight.  Even though it wasn’t as exciting as it had been then, we enjoyed our trip to the top.   

I had so much fun keeping the iphone in my purse and shooting with the real camera.  By the time the field trip was over, I had almost 100 photos.  The remainder of our visit will be posted next time in part II. 


  1. You're driving me nuts woman. I had to look up on the bing maps the distance involved from N-Hollywood to the old town. About 12 mls, right ?.

    Lovely photos, the one from inside the carriage is truly good.

  2. You're on the other side of the ridge. And the skyscraperish bit in teh middle is where you are writing about ?. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Los_Angeles,_CA_from_the_air.jpg

  3. @vince - ya the mileage is about right, approx 15 min via subway and +30 in the car...traffic was light that day too! The tallest building in the photo you linked is the US Bank Tower, and that's right where we were. I believe the little range on the left is the Santa Monica mountains and the larger one behind is the San Gabriel and maybe a little bit of Santa Susana.
    That little flat circular area almost surrounded is where the "valleys" are.

  4. I love Jason!
    Public transportation seems so inconvenient to me. I take the train to trainings when we have them in center city but it is annoying because I can't do any other home visits on those days. I do love not having to deal with traffic!
    What is your big girl camera? I don't think you ever told me. Did you do a post on it? I will go searching.

  5. @becky - when things work out the subway is way easier and cheaper to get into downtown or Hollywood, but since the cities are so spread out if the destination isn't right along the line it's too inconvenient. In Boston or NYC there are stops on almost every corner of the grid, we are not even close to that here. I'd love to use it more but sometimes it's further to get to the stops than just driving to where I need to go. As for the camera, it's nothing fancy - a Sony h5. As much as I'd like to have one of your SLRs, it's just too much camera for me and the amount of time I have to play around. But my Sony takes great photos and does a lot more than my iPhone.

  6. But wouldn't you need to make the darn tube with rubber for all the 'quakes you have on a daily basis. I expect you don't even feel them. And isn't there an open fissure with tar pits and such that's one tug of a zip away from dumping you sweet ass out someplace near Hawaii. Or is that the other place.

  7. @vince - ya we have the tar pits and earthquakes. I think they say upwards of 10,000 annually. The majority of them we don't feel so i don't think about it too much. However while stopped in traffic under a freeway overpass I get a sense of dread that makes me want to get the hell out of dodge! I'm not sure the safety measures they've taken with the metro. I'm sure there are some as most things built in the 90s or later had to be "earthquake safe". I'm terribly afraid of having another "big one" so it's probably best not to think about them...so, ya, thanks for reminding me. ;)

  8. Great pics with your awesome camera!

    That's about how public transit is here...not worth it...I usually ride my bike! Sad that in N.Y. it was so convenient to get around for cheap on the subway.

  9. I've always wished they'd bring more trains back. So much more fun than driving!

  10. Excellent pictures of LA, I haven't been on Angels flight since I was a kid, either. I use to take Metrolink every day when I worked. It was wonderful.

  11. These shots really turned out great. What a fun day we had! Although I look like such a goon in this photo.

  12. @marey - that's probably the best part of NYC...no car needed!

    @bd - they are fun. I have some family who lives up in Washington. There's a train trip that goes up there really inexpensively, but takes about 30 hours one way. I'm
    Trying to decide if it's worth it when the flight is only around 3 hours. Probably not...

  13. @bc - thank you...the metrolink is great if the stops work out. How nice for you that they did!

    @jason - stop it! The photo is very un-goon like. Wait til you see the philippe's photos! It was so fun!

  14. I really love the fact that there is something as quaint as Angels Flight in a city such as LA, but at the same time, I keep looking at the picture of it thinking how incredibly lazy it is to have a train just to go up and down a small hill. Was it a particulary affluent neighbourhood back in the 1800s??

  15. I don't think I have ever heard the term "work husband" before. That's funny.

    Very cool pics. I'd love to go there someday and see it for myself. I wish I could could travel more. Maybe one day when my kids are grown and I've lost most of my eyesight. :)

  16. @Hula - I agree, it's a pretty short distance, to their credit though the hill used to be steeper and taller, but more recently - I don't remember when, but maybe in the 50s - they flattened bunker hill and somehow made it less steep. Yes the hill was very wealthy and all the fashionable shopping was below so they had many bags to take up.
    As for your ? On the sat 9 post I'll have to think of an answer and get back to you...:)

  17. @Crystal - Well, at least CA isn't too far from AZ! There must be tours even for the oldies who've lost their eyesight, right? :)

  18. Thinking back to the olden days, you know the 1970s.. LOL just kidding!
    The 1870s until the 1920s/30s - I would not have wanted to walk up that hill considering that your average woman would have been wearing a corset, boots, petticoat, long dress, bussle all in the high heat of the LA summer.

    Even a man, with the suit, waistcoat, long sleeve shirt and top hat...

    Woooo Weee!! It would have been one hot sweaty climb!

  19. I've never even seen Angels Flight and I grew up in LA.