Chilean city demolishes historic cable car

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The "ascensores" are the trademark of Valparaiso and an essential mode of public transportation up the city's iconic hills.

Hillside cable cars are an iconic part of the Chilean port city of Valparaiso.

The cars clatter up and down the fabled the city's fabled hills. In 2003, Valparaiso was designated a World Heritage site.

But all that history couldn't save the "Las Canas" cable car, which was demolished last week, reports the Valparaiso Times.

Luis Parot, Valparaiso’s municipal operations director, told El Mercurio the demolition occurred because the "ascensor" posed a danger for pedestrians.

“Its walls have been unstable since the earthquake in February 2010,” he said. “If someone would have been hurt, it would have been the city’s fault.”

Of Valparaiso’s 30 original cable stations set up over a century ago, just five are currently functioning:

For the portenos, as Valparaiso residents are known, the cable cars are an essential mode of public transportation — the fastest, cheapest and most agreeable way to travel between the steep hills that are home to more than 90 percent of the city’s 300,000 residents, and the flatland, where its commerce, services and public transportation are located. …

The grounded cars represent more than disappointed tourists and wounded civic pride — they also raise questions about the difference the UNESCO designation really made to the city and its residents.

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