TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Where was the first passenger elevator installed?

February 4, 2014 ( – Where was the first passenger safety elevator installed?

Primitive elevators (actually lifts) were in use as early as the third century BC, operated by human, animal, or water wheel power. In 1743, a counter-weighted, man-powered, personal elevator, called the “Flying Chair” was built for King Luis XV connecting his apartment in Versailles with that of his mistress, one floor above King Luis.

From about the middle of the 19th century, elevators were powered, often steam-operated, and were used for conveying materials in factories, mines, and warehouses. In 1823, two architects Burton and Hormer built an “ascending room” as they called it, used to lift paying tourists to a platform for a panorama view of London. And, in 1835, architects Frost and Stutt built the “Teagle”, a belt-driven, counter-weighted, and steam-driven lift, in England.

In 1853, American inventor Elisha Otis demonstrated a freight elevator equipped with a safety device to prevent falling in case a supporting cable should break. This increased public confidence in such devices.

On March 23, 1857, a steam-powered passenger elevator was installed by the Otis Brothers in a five-story department store owned by E.W Haughtwhat & Company of Manhattan. It was the first public safety elevator. In 1878, Otis introduced a hydraulic elevator that increased speeds to 244 meters (800 ft) per minute. That same year Otis installed its first hydraulic passenger elevator in New York City’s hotel Broadway at 155 Broadway.