History

Back to 1930s Los Angeles: 'Angel's Flight'

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Isn't this gorgeous? In honor of Angels Flight re-opening Monday to paying passengers, let's return to the days when the funicular originally called the Los Angeles Incline Railway was an integral part of Downtown life. Passengers paid a penny (later a nickel) to ride Olivet and Sinai between 3rd and Hill streets and the neighborhood of hotels and rooming houses on Bunker Hill. In 1931, artist and architect Millard Sheets interpreted Bunker Hill in this canvas he called "Angel's Flight." It hangs in LACMA's Art of the Americas Building. LACMA:

The young women in the painting -- the model for both of whom was the artist’s wife, Mary -- may be standing on either the observation tower or a railway platform on the hilltop. Sheets omitted the famous cable railway and chose to view the scene looking north toward the stairway. He did not depict the stairs as straight, as they actually were, but showed them as meandering up the hill, thereby exaggerating the sense of height.

See Sheets' Tenement Flats, which hung in the White House during FDR's time, for another interpretation of Bunker Hill life in the era. It also leaves out the railway.

angels-flight-inset-wp.jpgAdd Angels Flight: Olivet and Sinai, the original cars, ferried invited passengers this weekend. Service resumes Monday at 6:45 a.m. Angels Flight has been closed since 2001, when Sinai broke loose and rolled down to strike Olivet, killing passenger Leon Praport and injuring seven others.

Add Sheets: Best known for his watercolors and the mosaic murals on Home Savings and Loan buildings around California, Sheets painted this beauty in oil. He taught at the famed Chouinard Art Institute in the Westlake district and was director of the Otis Art Institute in the 1950s.

"Angel's Flight" via LACMA Collections Online


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