Elevator History Timeline

History and origins of the elevators can be told in a timeline that spans the time of over five thousand years. Here are some of the most important elevator related milestones:

  • 2900 B.C. – The Great Pyramid of Egyptian emperor Cheops at Giza was made from over 2 million stone cubes. Each cube weighted over 5 tons and was lifted to the height of 481 feet.
  • 2500-1500 B.C – Egyptian farmers transferred water from the Nile to irrigation channels using the counterweighted lever.
  • 600 B.C. – Roman temple of Dianna was built in Ephesus. They used sandbag ramp bridges to erect over 2.000 stone columns that supported the main temple roof.
  • 236 B.C. – Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes invented first elevator that was based on ropes, weights and wrenches. Basics of his elevator theory became the foundation for all elevators in next 2.000 years.
  • 80 B.C. – Roman Colosseum was built with integrated network of 24 elevator cages that carried gladiators and wild animals to the arena floor. Elevators were powered by the work of over 200 slaves.
  • 50 B.C. – Invention of water wheel with a horizontal axis. It enabled it to be powered by the force of flowing water.
  • 1203 – Abbey of Mont St. Michael used monkeys to power its treadmill hoisting elevator.
  • 1690-1707 – French inventor Denis Palpin developed the theory of a steam pump that would play the key role in the future hydraulic and pneumatic elevators. He also invented high pressure water steam boiler.
  • 1743 – One of the first elevators that was intended for passenger use was installed in French king Luis XV’s villa at Versailles.
  • 1765 – James Watt patented steam engine.
  • 1823 – “Ascending room” was built in London, giving the 20 people opportunity to view the London panorama from the height of 37 meters.
  • 1829 – First electric motor prototype was built by American physicist John Henry.
  • 1845 – Englishman Sir William Thompson patented idea of hydraulic crane.
  • 1854 – Elisha Grave Otis presented his first cabin that contained self-locking door gear, which protected passengers from falling from elevator.
  • 1857 – Year in which Otis Elevator Company built and installed first steam driven elevator intended for public use in a five story department store in New York City.
  • 1870 – Nine story building in New York City became first building that was purposely built with the elevator shafts. On a first day over 2000 people used its elevators.
  • 1872 – First gas engine with 2 cylinders was built by German engineers Nickolas August Otto and Eugene Langen.
  • 1887 – African American inventor Alexander Miles patented automatic elevator door system.
  • 1878 – First electric elevator was built in Germany.
  • 1909 – 41 building in New York City got the first elevators with installed telephones.
  • 1926 - Ruth Safety Garages in Chicago had the elevators that could transport the cars in all 3 dimensions.