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Friday, October 13, 2017

One Hundred and Two Years Ago Today

This post card was mailed to his father one hundred and two years ago today by Bert. I know this because the message reads: "Dear Father, This is certainly a beautiful city and a good place to live. Things are very lively here & so many tourist the street are certainly black. Your son Bert."

The post card was published by the Van Ornum Colorant Co. centered in Los Angeles, California.
From 1908 to 1921 they published lithographic view-cards, mostly depicting scenes of southern California. Their corporate symbol on the back of this post card is also the divider between the message and the address. It is a stylized palm tree, like so many that one can see in Southern California.

ANGEL'S FLIGHT was open from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily. The round trip fare was 5 cents. I have, in my collection of collectables, a certificate with the history of Angel's Flight and a promise to rebuild once Bunker Hill's community renovations are done. We purchased it on one of our trips to downtown. It is probably 50 years old itself. That is nothing compared to the age of this post card!

Built in 1901 by Col. J. W. Eddy, was a commercially operated miniature cable railway transporting passengers up and down the steep slope of Bunker Hill, between Hill and Olive Streets. The line climbed 315 feet up the 33 1/3 percent gradient from its starting point just south of the entrance to the Third Street Tunnel. Colonel Eddy promoted the line, which
opened in 1901. He had been a friend of Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War. Angels Flight was built to allow residents of the wealthy Bunker Hill neighborhood to get to and from the business district near the Plaza. Eddy also set up a telescope and later a tower to attract tourists. It was an observation tower that rose 100 feet above the tunnel mouth, and commanded a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. You can see it in the middle of the post card against the sky.

Two thirty-inch gauge counterbalanced cars, seating thirty-eight passengers each, operated on the line. The track had three rails with a passing siding in the middle. Only up-bound passengers had to pay. The city required the company to maintain a parallel stairway for people who didn't want to pay.

The Bunker Hill neighborhood gradually declined over the years until the 1960's when the city decided to "renew" it. The city promised to save the line's equipment and to rebuild it. The last day of service was on May 18, 1969. In early 1995, construction began at a new location, 4th and Hill Streets, using the original rail cars, station house, and the two end station arches. The original driving mechanism was put back, but is no longer used. The trestle and track structure are new. The line reopened on February 24, 1996. It was quickly shut down again when a person died on the funicular. The Angel's Flight can still be seen today, but it is not in use.

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