Fun Facts About Elevators


After more than 160 years since their invention, elevators have become part of daily life. They are in apartment and office buildings, hospitals and even schools.

When it became apparent that having an elevator is more practical than installing wheelchair ramps, elevators became even more popular. As of June 2017, there were roughly 900,000 elevators in America, 1,750 miles of elevator shafts which is quite high compared to the 840 miles of subway tracks. 1yes, people actually take more elevator trips in America than trains.

However, there are some interesting facts about elevators that a lot of people don’t really know. So, let us dive right in and look at some of them:

  • Elevators and escalators are not the same thing. Elevators are a means of transportation that moves people and cargo across floors while escalators can only serve two floors at a time. Apart from this, elevators are wheelchair accessible while escalators are not. Matter of fact, the only way a person in a wheelchair would get on an escalator is if said person has a death wish.
  • Contrary to popular belief, elevators are actually much safer than escalators. Some will even say that elevators are twenty times safer. Matter of fact, like planes, elevators are statistically the safest way to travel. In America for example 26 people in elevators annually while 26 people die in car crashes every five hours.  That translates to upwards of three thousand fatalities a week.
  • 24 elevators in the at the ancient Roman colosseum were originally manually operated. The ‘lift’ used the force of over 200 slaves.
  • Elisha Graves Otis is the man behind the safety elevators. To date, the OTIS company supplies more than half of the world’s elevators.
  • Every three days, elevators around the world carry the equivalent of the earth’s population in them.
  • Elevator music was first introduced in the 1920s when elevators were first introduced. This was because people were afraid of stepping into such a basic structure and preferred taking the stairs. Building owners in collaboration with elevator makers decided to introduce music to put people at ease while they are travelling in between floors. The practice has been kept alive to date.
  • The first written record of the elevator was in Greece, 3rd Century BC and was invented by famed Greek mathematician Archimedes.
  • The first public elevator was in a nine story building in New York, the Cooper Union Foundation building.
  • There is a big misconception that when you press an elevator button multiple times, the doors will open (or close) a lot faster. This is not true. Once you press the button once, the elevator registers the call and other requests from the same floor are simply ignored. There’s something to think about the next time you are in a rush.
  • Another big misconception is that an overloaded elevator will fall but the fact is, an overloaded car will not move. There will be a warning buzzer until the weight inside the elevator car is reduced.
  • Until recently, the elevator was only a vertical travelling device but a German company Thyssenkrupp introduced a new design, MULTI, that travels both vertically and horizontally.

So, there we have it. Eleven interesting facts about elevators. That should make for some great small talk the next time you want to strike a conversation in an elevator or if you visit a lift specialist such as Guardian Elevators.

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