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Los Angeles’ Beloved Railroad Seen in movie ‘La La Land’ Chugging Back to Life

It was shut down after a catastrophic system failure sent one car crashing into the other in 2001, killing a passenger

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at news conference standing in front of the Angels Flight railway in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Angels Flight, LA's beloved little railroad, had its cameo in the hit musical "La La Land" and now it's almost ready for its close-up. The tiny funicular that hauled people 298 feet up and down the city's steep Bunker Hill was shut down in 2013 after a series of safety problems. Garcetti said those issues are being resolved and the railroad's antique wooden cars should be back in service by Labor Day. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) VOA

Angels Flight, LA’s beloved little railroad, had its cameo in the hit musical “La La Land” and now it’s almost ready for its close-up.

The narrow-gauge railroad that for more than a century hauled people 298 feet up and down the city’s steep Bunker Hill was shut down in 2013 after a series of mishaps, including a crash that killed a rider.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said those issues are being resolved and the railroad’s antique wooden cars, named Sinai and Olivet, should be back in service by Labor Day. They’ll be operated by a public-private partnership between the nonprofit Angels Flight Foundation and the private company ACS Infrastructure Development.

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“As anyone who has seen ‘La La Land’ can tell you, dreams do still come true here in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said exuberantly as dozens of cheering Angels Flight fans crowded together with reporters to hear his announcement just outside the railway’s bottom-of-the-hill station.

The railroad’s resurrection has been planned for months, but it may have gotten an unexpected boost when moviegoers saw Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling riding happily in one of the cars in “La La Land.” Many took to social media to ask why they couldn’t ride too.

That scene was just one of several film shoots the funicular has appeared in, said John Wellborne, past chairman of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation. But, he added with a chuckle, “It got a lot more attention than we anticipated.”

Meanwhile, some work still needs to be done before the cars can move again under an agreement reached with the state Public Utilities Commission.

That includes upgrading its funicular system in which the two cars’ counterbalancing weights allow one to be pulled up safely while the other is lowered. An emergency ramp must also be installed next to the railroad tracks so that if the cars break down in mid-run, as they did in 2013, firefighters won’t have to rescue the passengers this time.

Angels Flight railway is seen in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles, California, March 1, 2017.

Angels Flight railway is seen in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles, California, March 1, 2017.

Despite its recent woes, Angels Flight, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, holds a special place in the hearts of LA residents of all ages who will tell you countless stories of coming downtown to ride it during their childhood.

“I was 5 years old,” said Ron Lozano, who still vividly recalls the short trip as being his first thrill ride. “I didn’t get to Disneyland until I was 17.”

“It was heartbreaking when it shut down,” said the engineer who for years worked in a downtown skyscraper overlooking the tracks.

Angels Flight opened on New Year’s Eve 1901, hauling residents from Bunker Hill’s stately Victorian mansions down to one of the city’s best shopping districts. Rides cost a penny.

It operated until 1969 when it was shut down as the neighborhood, having fallen on hard times, underwent redevelopment.

FILE - Visitors walk past Angels Flight Railway in Los Angeles, Jan. 17, 2017.

FILE – Visitors walk past Angels Flight Railway in Los Angeles, Jan. 17, 2017.

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It reopened in 1996, just as the area was beginning to undergo a renaissance. For the next few years it carried thousands of tourists and office workers from the skyscrapers, museums and fashionable hotels that sprung up on Bunker Hill to the Grand Central Market below.

It was shut down after a catastrophic system failure sent one car crashing into the other in 2001, killing a passenger.

Reopened in 2010, it was closed three years later after a derailment stranded riders.(VOA)

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California Becomes the first US State to allow Gender-neutral Birth Certificates

The so-called "nonbinary" gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more "genders."

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The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents. Pixabay

California, October 17, 2017 : California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a state senate bill, allowing a gender-neutral marker on birth certificates and driver’s licenses starting from 2019.

California thus became the first state in the US to allow a “nonbinary” gender to be marked on birth certificates, Xinhua news agency reported.

The so-called “nonbinary” gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more “genders.”

According to the Gender Recognition Act approved on Sunday, California will offer a gender-neutral option on state documents for those who are transgender, intersex and others who are not identified as male or female.

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The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents.

“Existing law authorises a person who was born in this state and who has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition to obtain a new birth certificate from the State Registrar,” the bill read.

The Golden State is now also the second state in the US to allow residents to be identified by a gender marker other than “F” or “M” on their driver’s license.

Oregon and the District of Columbia had earlier issued the gender-neutral option on their driver’s licenses.

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Apple Has Shut Down Iranian Mobile Apps: Iran Media Report

Apple is not officially in Iran or any other Persian Gulf countries, but many Iranians purchase its products from stores inside Iran

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An Iranian woman tries out an iPhone in an electronics shop selling Apple products in Tehran, Iran. VOA
  • Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store
  • Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers
  • Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed

Tehran, August 26, 2017: Iranian media is reporting that Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store.

In reaction to the decision, Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers. He also sent out this tweet:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also Read: How Iran protects itself from the Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Attacks? Read it here!

Jahromi tweeted: “11 percent of Iran’s mobile phone market share is owned by Apple. Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed. We will follow up the cutting of the apps legally.”

Apple is not officially in Iran or any other Persian Gulf countries, but many Iranians purchase its products from stores inside Iran. (VOA)

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Is the US Getting Back to Bomb Shelters? North Korea threats revive Nuclear Bomb fear

North Korea threatens America

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Bomb shelter manufacturer engineers Vincent Carubia, left, and Eward Klein study specifications for a fiber glass dome shelter being installed on an estate in Locust Valley, N.Y
Bomb shelter manufacturer engineers Vincent Carubia, left, and Eward Klein study specifications for a fiber glass dome shelter being installed on an estate in Locust Valley, N.Y. VOA
  • He wondered how much good ducking under a desk could do if a bomb powerful enough to destroy a city fell nearby
  • Then there were backyard bomb shelters, which briefly became the rage during the missile crisis of 1962

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the era of nuclear bomb nightmares -of the atomic arms race, of backyard bomb shelters, of schoolchildren diving under desks to practice their survival skills in the event of an attack -seemed to finally, thankfully, fade into history. Until now.

For some baby boomers, North Korea’s nuclear advances and President Donald Trump’s bellicose response have prompted flashbacks to a time when they were young, and when they prayed each night that they might awaken the next morning. For their children, the North Korean crisis was a taste of what the Cold War was like.

“I’m not concerned to where I can’t sleep at night. But it certainly raises alarms for Guam or even Hawaii, where it might be a real threat,” said 24-year-old banker Christian Zwicky of San Bernardino, California.

People of his parents’ generation were taught to duck and cover when the bombs came.

“Maybe those types of drills should come back,” Zwicky said.

He isn’t old enough to remember the popular 1950s public service announcement in which a cartoon character named Bert the Turtle teaches kids how to dive under their desks for safety. But Zwicky did see it often enough in high school history classes that he can hum the catchy tune that plays at the beginning. That’s when Bert avoids disaster by ducking into his shell, then goes onto explain to schoolchildren what they should do.

“I do remember that,” says 65-year-old retiree Scott Paul of Los Angeles. “And also the drop drills that we had in elementary school, which was a pretty regular thing then.”

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Even as a 10-year-old, Paul said, he wondered how much good ducking under a desk could do if a bomb powerful enough to destroy a city fell nearby. No good at all, his teacher acknowledged.

Then there were backyard bomb shelters, which briefly became the rage during the missile crisis of 1962 when it was learned the Soviets had slipped nuclear-tipped missiles into Cuba and pointed them at the USA.

After a tense, two-week standoff between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that some believe brought the world the closest, it’s ever come to nuclear war, the missiles were removed and the shelters faded from public interest.

Now they, too, seem to be having a revival.

“When Trump took office it doubled our sales, and then when he started making crazy statements we got a lot more orders,” says Walton McCarthy of Norad Shelter Systems LLC of Garland, Texas. “Between now and a year ago, we’ve quadrupled our sales.”

His competitor, California-based Atlas Survival Shelters, says it sold 30 shelters in three days last week. During its first year in business in 2011, it sold only 10.

Bill Miller, a 74-year-old retired film director living in Sherborn, Massachusetts, thinks these days are more nerve-wracking than the standoff in October 1962.

“I think it’s much, much crazier, scarier times,” he said. “I think the people who were in charge in the Kennedy administration had much more of a handle on it.”

Also Read: United Nations’ Wake Up Call: Another alleged chemical attack reported in Syria’s Hama province

Nathan Guerrero, a 22-year-old political science major from Fullerton, California, agrees, saying he learned in history class that the “shining example” of a way to resolve such a conflict was how Kennedy’s brother and attorney general, Robert Kennedy, brokered the tense negotiations.

“But knowing the way the current administration has sort of been carrying itself, it doesn’t look like they are keen to solving things diplomatically,” he said.

“As a young person, honestly, it’s pretty unsettling,” he continued.

Had he given any thought to building backyard bomb shelters?

“I’d be lying if I said such crazy things haven’t crossed my mind,” he said, laughing nervously. “But in reality, it doesn’t strike me as I’d be ready to go shopping for bunkers yet.” Instead, he studies for law school and tries “not to think too much about it.”

Other Americans are more sanguine about the possibility of nuclear war. Rob Stapleton has lived in Anchorage, Alaska, since 1975, and he is aware that Alaska has been considered a possible target because it is within reach of North Korean missiles.

“There’s been some discussion about it around the beer barrel and I’m sure the United States is taking it seriously, but we’re not too concerned around here,” he said.

Alaska is so vast and spread out, said Stapleton, that he and his friends can’t imagine why North Korea would waste its time attacking The Last Frontier. “I mean sure you’d be making a statement, but you’d not really be doing any damage,” he said. (VOA)