A Modern City If the Passenger Elevator Did Not Exist

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Imagine the skyline of a modern city if the Passenger Elevator did not exist. Buildings would be limited to five or six stories. Most of the architecture of the 20th and 21st century would be impossible. Office towers, hotels and high-rise apartments would hardly stand in their present form.

The need for vertical transport is as old as civilization. Over the centuries, mankind has employed ingenious forms of lifting. The earliest lifts used man, animal and water power to raise the load. Lifting devices relied on these basic forms of power from the early agricultural societies until the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

From ancient times through the Middle Ages, and into the 13th century, man or animal power was the driving force behind hoisting devices. In ancient Greece, Archimedes developed an improved lifting device operated by ropes and pulleys, in which the hoisting ropes were coiled around a winding drum by a capstan and levers. By A.D. 80, gladiators and wild animals rode crude elevators up to the arena level of the Roman Coliseum.

Medieval records contain numerous drawings of hoists lifting men and supplies to isolated locations. Among the most famous is the hoist at the monastery of St. Barlaam in Greece. The monastery stood on a pinnacle approximately (200 ft) above the ground. Its hoist, which employed a basket or cargo net, was the only means up or down.

The first elevator designed for a passenger was built in 1743 for King Louis XV at his palace in France. The one-person contraption went up only one floor, from the first to the second. Known as the “Flying Chair,” it was on the outside of the building, and was entered by the king via his balcony. The mechanism consisted of a carefully balanced arrangement of Elevator Manufacturer and pulleys hanging inside a chimney. Men stationed inside the chimney then raised or lowered the Flying Chair at the king’s command.

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