A continuation of my visit to film and television locations in the Los Angeles area as a means to “walk the walk” of my novel’s characters and bring realism to my storytelling.
Hill Street Station
What is Angel’s Flight? The title of a church hymn? A love poem by Byron? Or a roller coaster ride at Six Flags. Of the three, the latter perhaps comes the closest. It is a mode of transportation that Angelinos have taken since the early part of the last century- 1901 to be precise. I guess you could best compare it to the cable cars of San Francisco, except instead of climbing many hills it climbs only one- Bunker Hill.
Angel’s Flight at original location
This funicular now connects Hill Street with California Plaza, it has since 1996, but prior to that it was located nearby to the north running from Hill Street to Olive. This was the location when my detective Tom Logan rode it regularly to reach his apartment atop Bunker Hill in Anything Short of Murder (2010).
Another view from Hill Street
Completed in 1901 with funding by Colonel J.W. Eddy, the Los Angeles Incline Railway consisted of two cars the Sinai and Olivet, which were transported by cables driven by a powerful engine situated at the upper station. There were two terminus the one above on Olive Street and the lower at the west corner of Hill Street at Third. As one car ascended, the other using gravity descended. It continued this service to passengers at the original location for 68 years.
California Plaza station
It had a fairly good safety record, although a fatal accident did occur at its original location in 1943. A sailor trying to walk up the track was run over by one of the cars. Then later (2001) in its new location, an 83 year old man was killed and several others injured as the car Sinai suddenly reversed directions and accelerated downhill hitting the second car. After an investigation by the National Safety Transportation Board, the problem was identified and re-engineered, and the newly restored funicular re-opened approximately nine years later in 2010.
Angel’s Flight from Hill Street (original location)
Angel’s Flight appeared in films; The Turning Point (1952) crime drama starring William Holden and Edmond O’Brien, the remake of M (1951) starring David Wayne, and Robert Aldrich’s, unusual take on the Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer potboiler, Kiss Me, Deadly (1955) with Ralph Meeker. With these crime noir films, and many others not listed, no wonder this historical railway found its way onto the pages of my novel Anything Short of Murder and its soon to be released sequel!
The Turning Point (1952)
Kiss Me, Deadly (1955)
Television crime dramas also featured this L.A.attraction. Perry Mason (1966) with Raymond Burr, Dragnet with Jack Webb, and The City of Angels (1976) just to name a few.
Perry Mason (1966)
I enjoyed visiting and riding on this historical landmark (as designated in 1962 and October of 2000) and knowing its association to film and television crime dramas, noir, and a mention in two Raymond Chandler novels- of which his detective Philip Marlowe is figuratively, Logan’s godfather- it shouldn’t be a surprise to my readers why I’d included it in my books.
BONUS: Click on LINK below for my video ride on Angel’s Flight
Look for the new Tom Logan mystery coming in 2013
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released early 2012 and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it where fine books are sold, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.