Elevator - The Designs and Materials III


The elevator is one of those inventions whose "ripple effect" is often overlooked. Just think of the practicality of any building over eight or ten stories without an elevator. Then, imagine a modern city without buildings over ten stories. Along with structural steel and reinforced concrete, the elevator was essential to the development of the modern skyscraper and thus to the common form of the modern urban center.

Steel guide rollers or guide shoes are attached to the top and bottom of the sling structure on each side to run along the guide rails. The guide rails are also steel and are attached to the interior walls of the elevator shaft which runs from the top of the building to the bottom. The emergency brake mechanism consists of two clamping faces which can be driven together by a wedge to squeeze on the guide rail. The wedge is activated by a screw turned by a drum attached to the emergency cable.

The elevator's practical impact was almost matched by its symbolic impact. There were years of immense urban growth, and the influx of newcomers. With property values skyrocketing in the cities, the middle-class families could not afford single family homes. Apartment building owners promoted apartment living with advertisements of "high-tech" amenities: hot and cold running water, telephone systems, central gas for cooking and lighting, fully equipped bathrooms, and elevators.

Moreover, with all these modern conveniences, apartment living captured the middle-class imagination as the embodiment of a new organization of domestic duties. Buildings came with centralized heating, ventilating, and plumbing systems, some had kitchens in the basement which would prepare food for individual apartment dwellers, and some even had a centralized vacuum system with nozzles in each room connected to a pump in the basement.

The elevator was even extolled as a contributor to democracy. In an elevator-equipped building, it mode little difference which floor one lived on, as every floor was equally accessible.

Elevator hoisting cable usually consists of six or more strands, each of which consist of a number of separate steel wires. The strands may be twisted around a hemp center which serves as a cushion and also contains a lubricant. The electric hoisting motors are specifically designed for elevator service and may drive the hoisting drum through a gearbox, both of which are purchased parts.

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