The Index

The Elevator

The invention of the elevator is attributed to Elisha Graves Otis, a blacksmith from New Orleans. In 1852, he revolutionized the way we transport goods and people around buildings. At the time, hoists were used in multi-story buildings for lifting heavy objects to upper levels. When operating these devices, however, workers were exposed to high risk of injury or even death due to falls caused by mechanical failures. To solve this problem, Otis designed an improved safety brake system composed of springs and steel bars that engaged upon any rapid descent. This invention made it possible for multiple-story buildings to exist safely without worry of a fatal accident occurring as a result of mechanical failure. Otis' invention was first demonstrated publicly at the 1854 World's Fair in New York City—it quickly became popular and was soon adopted in commercial buildings across America and Europe. Nowadays, elevators remain one of the most integral tools in modern life, allowing us unprecedented access to different levels of multi-floor buildings with minimal effort and maximum safety. Thanks to Elisha Graves Otis’ innovation over 160 years ago, we’re able to travel up and down between floors with ease and confidence!

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