The Merriment: “The Shortest Railway in the World”
The Location: Downtown L.A.
The Vibes: Historic, outdoors, quaint, scenic
Good for: Checking out one of L.A.’s tiniest landmarks or whenever you don’t feel like walking up the gigantic hill between Hill St. and the California Plaza
When-To-Go: Open daily, 6:45 a.m.–10 p.m.
The $$ Factor: $; Regular one-way fare is 50 cents or if you have a Metro (TAP) pass, it’s 25 cents
I’ll Be Back…: To ride down starting from California Plaza, since I’ve only ridden up the incline from the Hill St. entrance
Perhaps you’re like me, a native Angeleno who’s lived for decades in L.A., and still had no idea where the Angels Flight Railway was located. Or again, perhaps you’re like me, and once you found out where it was, briefly glanced at it while en route to another downtown L.A. destination and thought nothing more about it. But after haphazardly finding myself cruising up Angels Flight with a few colleagues one day recently, I became a huge fan of it and propose that everyone—visitors and Angelenos alike—ride it at least once in their lifetime, just to say they experienced “The Shortest Railway in the World.”
The railway itself is comprised of the original 1901 funicular cars Sinai and Olivet and has a slight twist to the French Beaux-Arts architectural style – grandiose arches, rich woods and circular columns. Sinai and Olivet leisurely trudge up and down the hill between Hill St. and the California Plaza daily, and with a distance of only 298 feet, there’s not a lot of ground to cover, but the ride up is scenic and the views from the top at the California Plaza are lovely (see photo below).
Angels Flight also has a pretty fascinating, remarkable history spanning more than 100 years that’s worth reading prior to visiting. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I will say that its story includes opening in 1901, several controversial relocations, bouncing back and forth between private owners, being mercilessly locked away and forgotten in an isolated storage area, and a few unfortunate deaths and injuries. You can read more here.
The ride itself is 50 cents (or 25 cents with a Metro card) and takes less than five minutes, meaning it’s something to do quickly and to cross off your L.A. Bucket List.
So the next time you find yourself near a few downtown attractions, such as Pershing Square, the California Plaza or another #WilsonsGuide favorite, the Grand Central Market (post coming soon!), make sure to stop by a true L.A. landmark, the Angels Flight Railway. Ride to the top for a panoramic view of the city, or if you simply don’t feel like walking up miniature mountains, also known as hills.
See you there soon!
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