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In the 1960s, as the Community Redevelopment Agency prepared to tear down the Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill, Angelenos (including the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times) urged them to preserve one small and delightful feature: Colonel J.W. Eddy’s efficient, charming and portable funicular, Angels Flight Railway.
In 1962, Angels Flight was declared Historic-Cultural Monument #4, in recognition of its significance, and the threat to its survival. And the CRA pledged that the wee conveyance would be stored, restored (using HUD grants), then reinstalled—in a few years, when there was sufficient development atop the new Bunker Hill.
Angels Flight was operating as sleepy Los Angeles grew into a metropolis, and it was still running as old Bunker Hill was scraped away, carrying occasional passengers up to a grim dusty plain that remained underutilized for many years, as it became clear that the CRA had made a terrible mistake.
But in 1996, as promised, Angels Flight returned to service, ferrying office workers, history lovers and symphony and museum goers between Grand Central Market and Grand Avenue.
And although its recent tenure has not been without drama and controversy, Angels Flight stands today as a treasure of old Los Angeles, its cars Olivet and Sinai twin time capsules that bring a lost world into focus for the bargain price of a $1 ticket.
Join Esotouric, L.A.’s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, for a webinar celebrating the cultural history of Angels Flight Railway, from its opening in 1901 through redevelopment, the long years in storage and its recent revival.
Your hosts Kim Cooper and Richard Schave have been intrinsically involved in Angels Flight’s most recent return, having been so upset on seeing the derelict funicular tagged with graffiti that they launched Angels Flight Friends And Neighbors (FANs), the advocacy group that successfully petitioned Mayor Eric Garcetti to step in and solve the apparently insurmountable licensing problems plaguing the privately owned Angels Flight.
Joining us to share their unique insights are Karen Rittenberg, the great-great niece of Angels Flight owner Robert Moore (1946-1952), Greg Moreland, the grandson of Angels Flight owner Lester B. Moreland (1952-1962), and Steve DeWitt, who is a senior Vice President at ACS Infrastructure, the funicular’s current operator. Plus, Bunker Hill historian Nathan Marsak will be in attendance, along with Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison.
The webinar will reveal:
• The colorful private operators who kept Angels Flight humming day and night for decades, starting with the visionary creator, Col. J.W. Eddy
• A tour of the lost landmarks that once surrounded Angels Flight, down at street level on Hill Street, flanking the funicular along its tracks up Bunker Hill, and on the hill itself
• Angels Flight in popular culture, as an early cinema and film noir location, a student film favorite, in video games (“L.A. Noire”), in fiction (John Fante’s “Ask The Dust”), and a beloved symbol of nostalgia for a lost Los Angeles for generations of visual artists
• How Angels Flight survived the long decades in storage to become the star atop the tree of 1990s Bunker Hill redevelopment, only to quickly flicker out again
• The terrible story of an arrogant ski lift designer, a careless redevelopment agency and a tragic passenger, whose fates converged on a terrible funicular trip in 2001.
• How Esotouric’s Kim and Richard got involved in saving Angels Flight after its 2013 derailment, a wild tale that includes Eric Garcetti’s Vogue Magazine feature, enlisting film producer Harold Nebenzal (“Cabaret,” “M”) for a funicular fundraiser, and how Angels Flight advocacy helped to get the Los Angeles Times buildings landmarked
• Peculiar things about Angels Flight Railway that only its biggest fans might know or notice.
This webinar is an illustrated lecture packed with rare photos and video that will bring Angels Flight Railway and old Bunker Hill to life on your digital device. And you’ll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app.
After the presentation, Kim and Richard will answer your questions about Angels Flight, Downtown Los Angeles and their passion for historic preservation, so get ready to be a part of the show.
Can’t join in when the webinar is happening? You’ll have access to the full replay for one week.
So tune in and discover the incredible history of Los Angeles, with the couple whose passion for the city is infectious.
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About Esotouric: As undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave inexplicably hated one other on sight. (Perhaps less inexplicably, their academic advisor believed they were soul mates). A chance meeting 18 years later proved much more agreeable. Richard wooed Kim with high level library database access, with which she launched the 1947project true crime blog, highlighting a crime a day from the year of The Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel slayings. The popular blog’s readers demanded a tour, and then another. The tour was magical, a hothouse inspiring new ways for the by-then-newlyweds to tell the story of Los Angeles. Esotouric was born in 2007 with a calendar packed with true crime, literary, architecture and rock and roll tours. Ever since, it has provided a platform for promoting historic preservation issues (like the Save the 76 Ball campaign and the landmarking of Charles Bukowski’s bungalow), building a community of urban explorers (including dozens of free talks and tours under the umbrella of LAVA) and digging even deeper into the secret heart of the city they love.
Rights and permissions: By attending an Esotouric webinar, you acknowledge that the entirety of the presentation is copyrighted, and no portion of the video or text may be reproduced in any fashion.