Why This California Condor Is Perched Next To Angels Flight

Perhaps you've noticed a watchful California condor, perched in downtown L.A. next to Angels Flight. According to photographer Stephen Zeigler, the condor was installed on Thursday Wednesday by street artist Wild Life. You can find it atop a short wall near the stairs adjacent to the historic, yet currently defunct funicular.

The installation has a purpose beyond looking cool, and it was placed next to Angels Flight for a reason. The condor sits next to a sign explaining that in 1987, the California condor was all but extinct with the only remaining birds existing in captivity. However, while still endangered, the species has been reintroduced in various parts of North America. According to conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife, there were about 435 California condors in the world as of May 2013, with about 237 of those living in the wild in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico. "Like Angels Flight, she sits here as a reminder: all is not lost," the sign reads.

It continues:

This abandoned transportation site once ferried members of a lost civilization. Now two motionless railway cars sit devoid of life, yet still oddly popular with tourists. As with the Roman ruins, visitors can view what remains of a bygone era in a city filled with carnival-like attractions.

There is a movement to restore Angels Flight, largely led by Estouric's Kim Cooper and Richard Schave. The funicular first opened in 1901, when you could score a ride up Bunker Hill for a penny. It was dismantled and moved a half-block for development in 1996, then closed in 2001 after a crash resulted in one death and seven injuries. Angels Flight reopened once more in 2010, but closed in 2013 following an incident where a train car derailed. No one was injured, and those who want to see Angels Flight ride again argue that the reason for the derailment has been investigated and fixed. According to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Angels Flight operators were "using a tree branch for months to bypass a safety feature when one of the cable cars derailed." New safety equipment was added and tested in early 2014, yet the funicular remains closed as the California Public Utilities Commission wants a walkway installed next to the tracks.

Wild Life frequently works with "Cardboard Artist" Calder Greenwood, and you may remember the time they dangled a massive spider from the Sixth Street Bridge (R.I.P.)