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1852: Otis “Safety” Elevator

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Images: [1],[2]

Innovation: “Safety” Elevator
Location: London, England
Year: 1852
By: Elisha Otis

The first passenger elevator was built in 1743 for King Louis XV. It had room for one person and only went up one floor.  It consisted of balancing weights and pulleys and was raised and lowered by the King’s men.  By 1850, steam and hydraulic elevators were introduced, but in 1852 Elisha Otis invented the first safety elevator.  He designed this elevator when he needed to hoist up heavy building materials while converting a sawmill into a factory in Yonkers, New York. “He made toothed wooden guide rails to fit into opposite sides of the elevator shaft, and fitted a spring to the top of the elevator, running the hoisting cables through it. The cables still guided the elevator up and down, but if they broke, the release of tension would throw the spring mechanism outward into the notches, preventing the cabin from falling.” Although he didn’t invent the elevator, he did invent the braking (safety) system used in modern elevators, increasing the public’s confidence in elevators and making skyscrapers and thus modern cities possible.  `

Article: [1],[2]


Written by Michael Hammontree

October 7, 1852 at 11:46 pm

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