Who Invented The Elevator?

Without elevators, it was impossible to have skyscrapers.
Without elevators, it was impossible to have skyscrapers.

Elisha Graves Otis invented the modern elevator in 1852 at a place called Yonkers in New York State. He was not the first to develop the idea of an elevator. His invention only improved the function of the existing steam elevators by adding a safety brake system. The motivation for the design by Otis was the need to lift heavy equipment to upper floors in the company where he was working. He showcased his invention in 1854 by having the hoisted ropes that had been connected to the makeshift elevator cut while it was up in the air to see whether the elevator would fall or not. The wooden safety brake held the lift from falling which was a sign that the invention was a success. Later, the safety brake was named “safety hoist.”

The Biography of Elisha Otis

Otis was born in a family of six people on August 3, 1811, in Halifax, Vermont. He was the last born with his parents being Stephen Otis and Phoebe Glynn. Otis received his basic education in one of the public schools in his home town. Thereafter, in the early 1830s, he moved to Troy in New York where he joined the construction sector. He was employed as a wagon driver and carpenter. Otis married two wives called Susan A. Houghton and Elizabeth Otis with whom he had two sons. After working in the construction industry for some time, he developed health complications which limited him from engaging in heavy work.

Otis left his job to venture into grist milling and sawmilling from 1838. He also went back to his home town and settled in Brattleboro, Vermont. Before long, Otis abandoned milling and got into building wagons and carriages. He later moved to New York where he was hired as a master mechanic at bedstead factory in Albany. It is while working in this factory that he created the modern elevator. The existing hoists were considered safety hazards by the workers because of their nature of crushing and causing a lot of damages. They were also a threat to the workers’ lives. He also designed an automatic turner and a railway safety brake. His successful invention of the modern elevator resulted in him pioneering a company for designing and distributing commercial elevators. This company became famous globally for its elevators and was a great success. Otis succumbed to diphtheria on April 8, 1861.

Merits and Demerits Of Elevator

Elevators have resulted in faster, more efficient, and easier access to buildings; especially those with more than six floors. Besides the movement of people, elevators also help in moving heavy goods up and down buildings. On the other hand, one of the limitations of the elevators is the inconvenience that results when one is stuck in it due to power failure. Besides, even those people that need access to the lower floor use elevators instead of the stairs which leads to people avoiding an opportunity for physical exercise.


More in World Facts