Bunker Hill’s super-short, historic railway Angels Flight has been out of service since a 2013 derailment, and now, like many things that hold still for too long in Los Angeles, it’s been tagged. Twitter user DTLAWalkingTours tweeted a photo Wednesday showing graffiti on the side of the car closest to the staircase. The railcars, named Sinai and Olivet, date back to 1901, and run up the hill between Hill Street and California Plaza on Grand Avenue.
Hal Bastian, president of the nonprofit Angels Flight Railway Foundation, which runs the funicular, called it "a tragedy."
The paint will be scrubbed off immediately, he said, so as not to invite more tagging. Bastian says the foundation has long had issues with graffiti on the staircase next to the railway but never on the actual cars.
Would a moving target been hard to hit? Maybe. But there's no word yet on when the railroad will be up and running again. The biggest issue seems to be the construction of an emergency walkway alongside the tracks. The foundation is working on designing one. Though the nonprofit doesn’t agree that it will be effective in getting people off the railcars in an emergency, state regulators won’t let passengers back on the cars until the walkway has been constructed. The railroad has had periodic safety issues and accidents over the years, including one that resulted in a death.
The Angels Flight Railway opened in 1901 at Third and Hill. Public Art in LA says the funicular was once advertised as the shortest railway in the world. In the 1950s, the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project, which razed the old neighborhood full of ramshackle mansions, threatened the tiny railway, but it wasn't demolished. Instead, in 1969, it was dismantled and tucked away. It wasn't until 1996 that the railway was reinstalled in a new location (its current spot across from Grand Central Market) and began operating again.