October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

I made a grave mistake a while back. Looking back at this small moment in time I cannot help but be embarrassed. It’s pretty difficult to even talk about it.

Ok, here goes.  I used to believe Elisha Otis invented the elevator.

What an idiot.

Well, I was corrected that day by a very blunt friend of mine. Otis did not invent the elevator. The elevator is about as old as dirt – the Greeks had Archimedes while the simple idea of using ropes and pulleys to ascend a height likely predated even the great Greeks.  If I studied Asian culture more, they probably had this “invention” before the ice caps melted.

Nonetheless, elevators are about the most influential technology for the built environment. Sure, stairs are classic. Of course, doors keep out the weather and unkempt neighbors. Don’t forget simple rocks – they make walls alright. What’s so great about elevators is that they single handedly allowed us to inhabit space above the ground. They allowed us to transport goods as well as people, the elevator gave the tendon to the steel bones of our modern society.

The elevator is far from static in it’s trajectory as the bicep of architecture, the space elevator is so freaking cool that it still intrigues me a decade after I first heard about it. And how about elevators transcribing the Pacific or Mediteranean oceans? Forget about the “Beam me Up, Scotty” – that’s totally a particle elevator.

So, to wrap up the best of all my blog posts….. Elish Otis did invent the safety elevator at the 1854 Worlds Fair in New York – not a small feat when you think about the possibility of an elevator failing on top of the Petronas Towers.


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