The History of Elevators
Since the dawn of time humans sought the way for more efficient transport of
goods and human passengers from one level of terrain to another. First written
report of an elevator came in 1st century BC when roman architect Vitruvius
mentioned that Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes has built his first
elevator around 235BC. Even before that there some suspicion that several
ancient civilizations have used elevators. Archeologists have found shafts that
could be used for elevator transport in several ancient ruins. Since 1st century
BC elevators powered by human, animal and water power became widely used in
Roman Empire, most famously at the Roman Colosseum where elevator platform
transported gladiators and wild animals to the arena level.
During Middle Ages several mountain monasteries used small “basket” elevators to
transport people and goods to their high and secluded walls. Those monasteries
where built with no land access to them with elevator as the only point of
entry. In 1793 Russian mechanic and inventor created first elevator that lifted
its cabin using screw mechanisms. His elevators were installed in two Russian
royal palaces Saint Petersburg and Moscow and thirty years later in London.
Revolution in elevator technology began with the invention of hydraulic and
electricity. Hydraulic elevators were most commonly used to transport freight
goods on small vertical distances. They operated on a principle that water pump
increased the pressure of the main plunger which pushed freight compartment
upwards. This solution was not practical for tall buildings and was soon
replaced with rope-geared elevator with multiple pulleys in 1850 (invented by
the Henry Waterman of New York).
Elevator design that is used today was first presented in 1852 with the
discovery of the safety device that prevented cabin from falling if the main
cable broke. Inventor of this device, Elisha Graves Otis, demonstrated such an
elevator in New York Crystal Palace 1854’s exhibition of technical achievements. Few years later his elevator was
installed in the first building in New York City.
Toward the end of 19th century several key discoveries regarding the use of
electricity with elevators were made. German inventor Werner von Siemens built
first electric elevator in 1880, and few years earlier J.W. Meaker patented a
method for safe opening and closing of elevator doors.
Use of elevators over the centuries has greatly improved ways of transporting
people and goods over vertical distances. Today in use are all types of
elevators – pneumatic, cable-borne and hydraulic.
Many countries today have legal requirement for use of elevators in multi-story