During a recent filming of La La Land, Olivet and Sinai, once Downtown’s favorite couple and long-time workers of Angel’s Flight were finally back working together again. If only briefly, as LA’s near vertical funicular re-opened for a single day to accommodate the filming of the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the two proved that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. The two, sharing the splendor of the film, no doubt made it easier for the actors to portray their roles as committed lovers. Yet, history has shown Olivet and Sinai haven’t always been as cordial with their guests and when these two angels fight their candescent romance can prove deadly.
Sinai and Olivet first met at Angel’s Flight back in 1901. Back then, Bunker Hill was considered one of LA’s au courant neighborhoods, the place to live and be seen. At that time, they were the toast of the town hosting parties for lovers like themselves, LA’s leading citizens and almost anyone else who wanted to enjoy a pick me up when traveling between the streets of Olive and Hill.
Side by side they kept the excitement of Angel’s Flight alive. Originally called the Los Angeles Incline Railway, the flight paid homage to its creator, Colonel James Ward Eddy, who resided on Bunker Hill at the time. Eddy, who knew Abraham Lincoln, was an officer in the battalion that protected Washington D.C. during the Civil War. Eddy had personally financed the construction of Angel’s Flight and were Sinai and Olivet favorite supporters. There were two boarding platforms, both painted bright vermilion. One located at Olive Street, the other located at Hill Street with an archway entrance with a hand-painted sign that read, “Angels Flight.”
In 1952 Olivet and Sinai were happy together creating the perfect balance. Their love was as strong as a cable and they never traveled more than 315 feet away from each other.
It is estimated that Angel’s Flight has carried more passengers per mile than any other railway in the world, over a hundred million in its first fifty years.
In 1962, LA’s Cultural Heritage Board, proclaimed Angel’s Flight a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. It was Official, Olivet and Sinai would be married in the pages of history forever.
Then in 1969, their home of almost 70 years succumbed to modern development. Bunker Hill was designated for urban renewal, which resulted in the relocation of around 22,000 people to make way for commercial skyscrapers and posh apartment complexes. Angel’s Flight was taken apart and Olivet and Sinai were forced to move into a tiny private home at The Bandstand, which what compared to what the two had once known must have felt like a crypt. For 27 years the two found themselves without any romance or thrill rides. Life had definitely changed and it took a heavy toll on their relationship.
Then in February of 1996, Angel’s Flight was restored and put back in operation. However, it was placed one-half block south of the original location and Olivet and Sinai never really got used to the new site. They argued about almost everything on a daily basis for over 5 years. Then one day, Sinai just snapped
Together again, all seemed well. Angel’s Flight was back in operation, this time leading Downtown tourists to and from destinations such as Grand Central Market, Grand Performances, any many others. Once again Downtown had its favorite short cut. But in September of 2013, Olivet and Sinai began what would be their last public display of discernment. Tired of living, tired of fighting, and missing the days of their youth the two decided to jump off the tracks. No one was hurt but authorities concluded there were just too many flaws in their relationship.
Still, Angel’s Flight remains part and parcel of LA’s historical heritage. Hopefully one day the two will make up and share the joy they once felt with the lives of others. Let us hope the on screen passions of Gosling and Stone helped the two rekindle the romance and magic they once shared.