An elevator, by definition, is a platform or enclosure that is lifted and lowered in a vertical shaft to carry people and goods. The working equipment, motor, wires, and accessories are all located on the shaft. Human, animal, and water wheel power were used to run primitive elevators as early as the third century B.C.E. In 1743, King Louis XV had a counter-weighted, man-powered personal elevator built to connect his Versailles apartment with that of his mistress, Madame de Châteauroux, who lived one floor above him.
Elevators from the nineteenth century
Elevators were motorized, frequently steam-operated, and used to carry commodities in industries, mines, and warehouses starting about the middle of the nineteenth century. Burton and Homer, two architects, designed and built an “ascending room” in 1823. This rickety elevator carried paying guests to a viewing platform with a panoramic view of London. The “Teagle,” a belt-driven, counter-weighted, and steam-driven hoist, was created in England by architects Frost and Stuart in 1835.
Sir William Armstrong invented the hydraulic crane in 1846, and hydraulic equipment began to displace steam-powered elevators by the early 1870s. The hydraulic elevator is powered by water (or oil) pressure generated by pumps and is supported by a heavy piston rotating in a cylinder.
Elisha Otis’s Elevator Brakes
Elisha Otis, an American inventor, traveled to Yonkers, New York in 1852 to work for Maize & Burns, a bedstead company. Otis was motivated to start designing elevators by the company’s owner, Josiah Maize. Maize required a new hoisting system to transport heavy equipment to his factory’s top floor.
In 1853, Otis showed a freight elevator with a safety system to prevent the lift spare parts from tumbling in the event that a supporting cable failed. The public’s trust in such devices grew as a result of this. Otis founded an elevator manufacturing company in 1853 and developed a steam elevator.
Otis produced an “Improvement in Hoisting Apparatus Elevator Brake” for Josiah Maize, and showed his new innovation to the public during the 1854 Crystal Palace Exposition in New York. During the demonstration, Otis intentionally disconnected the elevator lifting wires after hoisting the elevator car to the top of the building. Instead of crashing, the elevator car came to a halt thanks to Otis’s invention of brakes. While Otis did not design the first elevator, his brakes, which are still employed in modern elevators, helped to make skyscrapers a reality.
Otis and the Otis Elevator Company began producing passenger elevators in 1857. The Otis Brothers erected a steam-powered passenger elevator in a five-story department store operated by Manhattan’s E.W. Haughtwhat & Company. It was the first public elevator in the world.
Biography of Elisha Otis
Elisha Otis was born in Halifax, Vermont, on August 3, 1811, the youngest of six children. Otis traveled to Troy, New York, at the age of twenty to work as a wagon driver. He married Susan A. Houghton in 1834 and they had two boys together. Unfortunately, Otis’ wife passed away, leaving him a young widower with two young children.
After marrying his second wife, Elizabeth A. Boyd, in 1845, Otis relocated to Albany, New York. Otis Tingley & Company hired him as a master mechanic to make bedsteads. It was here that Otis began innovating for the first time. A railway safety brake, rail turners for speeding up the manufacture of rails for four-poster beds, and the improved turbine wheel were among his initial inventions.
On April 8th, 1861, Otis died of diphtheria in Yonkers, New York.
Elevators powered by electricity
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, electric elevators became popular. Werner von Siemens, a German inventor, built the first one in 1880. Alexander Miles, a black inventor, developed an electric elevator (US patent #371,207) on October 11, 1887.