The Creation History of Elevator I


Ever wondered what gave way to soaring imagination of architects? Would the modern day city’s skyline be the same if we did not have skyscrapers and high rise buildings? One of the inventions that have played an important role in modern day architecture is elevators. Imagine yourself climbing stairs to your apartment on 19th floor each time you want to go out. Yes, sounds like a good workout routine. Think again, and you would have a new found respect for Elevator and its inventors.

The need for elevators did not arise just yet to support modern architecture, in fact, it has been as old as our civilization. We have always looked for ways to lift things. Back in the 3rd century, hoists operated by water wheels, humans and animals were used for the lifting purposes. This basic way of lifting continued till the dawn of the industrial revolution. Animal or man power was the main force behind hoisting until one day Archimedes endowed us with an improved lifting device. The device was operated with support of pulleys and ropes coiled around winding drum using levers. By AD 80, wild animals as well as gladiators could ride this primitive elevator.

Further ahead, the first elevator was designed to lift a passenger in 1743. This was made exclusively for King Louis in France. Though this looked nothing like elevators of today, it was called a flying chair. Carefully placed outside the King’s balcony, the flying chair was used by the king to travel from one floor to another. It was operated manually on King’s command.

Soon in 1850, a much more sophisticated elevator was introduced – hydraulic and steam elevator. And with this, a name that has been associated with quality elevators till date, Otis, came into being. In a span of two years, Elisha G Otis introduced first ever safety elevator. He solved the challenge of rope failure faced by earlier elevators and hence his elevator was known as safety elevator. Otis’s elevators had safety brake installed in each one of them. In case of a rope failure, the spring pushed ratchet to bring forward sawtooth iron bar, securing the elevator. Otis demonstrated this himself in one of the presentations in New York by breaking free the rope and the safety brake that he had installed worked wonderfully.

Simultaneously, Frost and Stutt introduced a traction method, counterbalance kind elevator known as Teagle. Teagle and safety brakes by Otis became basic safety features of the elevators and made way for safety elevator devices.

This passenger elevator was first installed in New York City’s hotel Broadway in 1857. It was powered by steam, could carry around 450 Kgs. of weight and traveled at a speed of 12 meters/minute. Installation of this elevator gave boost to the hotel business, because now rooms on the upper floors were no more undesirable. The hotel could now charge premium rates for the penthouses as they gave superior view and the customers were not required to climb so many stairs.

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