From The Getty Museum to Lisbon’s Hills – The Future and The Past – Two Unique Ways to Transport People


The Getty Museum tram on video.

Lisbon’s Glória funicular on video.

CRUISING THE PAST looks at the Getty Museum tram and the Glória funicular in Lisbon.

Each of these unique ways to transport people climb a mountain. One is modern and the other old – but they share one thing in common – both are unique and an attraction in themselves.


The Getty Museum pilot-less tram ride offers guests to the Los Angeles museum an experience in itself.   It carries on a long tradition of a manner transporting people in an usual way.  The Getty is massive as the mountain on which it was constructed. It features supporting walls nearly as tall as the mountain. The Getty’s stone edifice and its towering juxtaposition evoke an emotion that you, the visitor, are a god, looking down on your creation?the L.A. basin.

With over 1.2 million people visiting The Getty annually, the state-of-the-art museum required parking facilities that could handle traffic unable to park in the limited space the mountain provides. Hovair (shuttle system), from Otis Elevator, created a tram for this unique project. The trains are designed to run automatically without an on-board operator. Each train is capable of making the 3,960-ft run in 3.62 minutes. The round-trip time, including passenger-transfer time, is 8.25 minutes. During peak period operation, the average passenger-waiting time is only 1.81 minutes. The shuttle cars ride on a suspension system. The terminal landings also contain large emergency buffers. Unlike a conventional elevator, the buffers consist entirely of frangible tubes. They are designed to absorb energy by deforming the tubes and, therefore, are only usable for one emergency stop.


The Glória Funicular (Elevador da Glória) is the most comfortable way to get to the interesting points of Lisbon located on the higher altitudes of the city and normally accessible only through the very steep streets. This funicular is the busiest one. It transports annually over 3 million people. Its 265 metres long route leads from the Bairro Alto district, from Sao Pedro de Alcântara, to the Praça dos Restauradores, and it has an average gradient of 18%. From the top of the trail extends the fabulous view over the city.

The Glória Funicular was opened to the public in October 1885.

At first it was designed as a water-powered system, then in 1886 it was replaced by a steam-power, and finally in 1915 it was electrified. In 2002 it was designated a National Monument.



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…