Elevators are one of those inventions that make you think, “How did we figure this one out?” Or maybe you ask something more along the lines of “How do we trust these contraptions”. Whatever party you fall into, elevators fascinate us to some level.
The origin of the elevator is a humble one– the first elevators were simple platforms hoisted by either people or animals. They were used to move water, building materials, or simply heavy objects from one place to another. The first recorded passenger elevator didn’t appear in our history until 1743. King Louis XV placed this elevator in Versailles and used it to be carried from his apartments on the first floor to his mistress’ apartments on the second floor. The contraption wasn’t very advanced at all– To make it work, men stationed in a chimney pulled on the ropes. They called it a “flying chair.”
Well, thank goodness elevators are a little more sophisticated these days, but we had our share of problems to figure out. In the 1800’s elevator technology advanced and switched from being manually powered to steam powered, and were nicknamed the “ascending room”, mystical sounding right? These steam powered elevators were awe inspiring, except for one small detail: the cables used with the counterweights to make the steam-powered elevator move could easily snap, sending the cab crashing into the ground and ending lives.
It was nearly the end for the elevator until Elisha Otis solved this safety problem. Debuted at the 1854 World’s Fair, Otis came up with a design that had a safety “brake.” In the event that the cables broke, a wooden frame at the top of the elevator car would snap out and hit the walls of the shaft, stopping the elevator in its tracks. The result? The boom of the skyscraper.
Elevators have continued to evolve since 1854, and today it is commonplace to hop into an “ascending room” to get to work, school, or even home. Whatever space you’re designing let us help you place the best and safest elevator cab possible. After all, nobody is in an elevator for very long and there is not a lot to do except look at four walls and wait.