Touring the History of the Elevator

ancient elevator, elevator history, elevator installation

History of the elevator by Carson Elevator LLC Having an elevator installed in your home may seem like a 21 st century luxury, but elevators themselves date back many centuries—as far back as ancient Greece in fact. Although the types of elevators that are installed in homes today are much faster, much more comfortable, and far more luxurious than the early mechanical hoist lifts used in ancient times, elevators today share many of the same principles and design elements with their early predecessors. Read through this brief history of the elevator to learn how lifts evolved over the years to become the types of elevators that can be installed in your home in Salt Lake City.

Ancient Grecian Hoist Lifts

The origin of the hoist, which is the basic design principle of all elevators, dates back to ancient times when the first documented use of a pulley and winch system occurred in Greece in 236 B.C. This was when Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor Archimedes invented a man-powered hoist device that were used to lift Roman Emperor Nero and the Empress in the palace.

Elisha Graves Otis’ Safety Brake

One of the biggest breakthroughs in elevator design came in 1853 when Elisha Graves Otis invented a safety brake that solved the problem of rope failure that had plagued contemporary elevators of the time. Otis demonstrated his safety break (which would serve as the inspiration for the modern safety gear) at the Crystal Palace in New York by cutting the elevator’s rope and living to tell about it—a dramatic presentation that made him a legendary character and one of the earliest pioneers in elevator safety.

First Passenger Service Elevator

The world’s first passenger service elevator was installed in a five-story hotel in New York City in 1857. This steam-powered elevator carried a maximum load of 992 pounds and boasted a top speed of approximately 40 feet/second. This was a major step forward in the upward expansion of the modern city, since before passenger elevators buildings were rarely built taller than five stories. The next time you look at the skyscrapers dotting downtown Salt Lake City, you know the elevator is in large part to thank.