The safety elevator is an astonishingly successful mass transit system which has changed the very shape of our cities.
In 1853 Elisha Otis climbed onto a platform which was then hoisted high above a large crowd of onlookers, nervy with anticipation. A man with an axe cut the cable, the crowd gasped, and Otis’s platform shuddered – but it did not plunge. “All safe, gentlemen, all safe!” he boomed. The city landscape was about to be turned on its head by the man who had invented not the elevator, but the elevator brake. As Tim Harford explains, the safety elevator is an astonishingly successful mass transit system which has changed the very shape of our cities.
Producer: Ben Crighton
Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon
(Image: Modern Elevator, Credit: iurii/Shutterstock)
Sources and related links
David Owen - “Green Manhattan” The New Yorker 18 October 2004
Richard Florida - “The World Is Spiky” The Atlantic Monthly October 2005
Nick Paumgarten - “Up and Then Down” The New Yorker 21 April
Kheir Al-Kodmany - “Tall Buildings and Elevators: A Review of Recent Technological Advances” Buildings 2015, 5, 1070-1104