Without the invention of the elevator, modern society as we know it would be considerably different. After all, it would be impossible to climb 80-story buildings and history shows that they only exist thanks to the engineering genius of the emergency elevator safety break in the mid-19th century. Whether they are installed for the purpose of helping those with a disability live independently or purely for an aesthetical benefit, it is hard to deny our need for the modern elevator. Read on as we go through its evolution throughout history…
The earliest reference to the elevator can be found in the works of a Roman architect called Vitruvius who reported that the first one was built around 236 BC. It is thought that this early construction would have consisted of a rope pulley powered by manual slave labour or animal labour. In the year 1,000 there is yet another mention of a primitive elevator system that can be found in the ‘Book of Secrets’ by al-Muradi, who described a lifting device which was used in order to raise a large battering ram and subsequently demolish a castle. In addition to this, it is well known that Louis XV of France commissioned a ‘flying chair’ for one of his mistresses; it is thought that this was an elevator as many early elevator designs actually had a seating area.
Despite these early instances, it wasn’t until the industrial era that the elevator really came into its own. In fact, Elisha Graves Otis is the man behind the modern elevator as we know it today as his invention of the emergency safety break, which he debuted at the New York exposition in 1854 in a death-defying demonstration, convinced many property owners of the safety of these mechanical devices.
Up until 1882, many elevator systems used traction which meant that they relied on ropes, pulleys and a counterweight. When hydraulic power was introduced, it revolutionised the industry and allowed for rapid development. In fact, 1887 saw the development of elevator doors that would close off the elevator shaft in order to promote safety. Despite these developments, many people were still unsure about using an elevator and a 1945 strike in New York City actually lead to the implementation of an emergency stop button, emergency phone and an automated voice intended to calm passengers.
Although Spain currently reigns supreme as the European country with the most elevators in operation, we like to think that the UK aren’t far behind. After all, elevators play an integral role in how we go about our day to day lives in 2019 and they are only increasing in popularity as each year passes. To find out more information about the history of the modern elevator, get in contact with the best lift company around and speak to a member of the Elevators Ltd team today!