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How the elevator transformed America
Boston Globe ^ | 3/1/2014 | Leon Neyfakh

Posted on 03/01/2014 7:02:01 AM PST by Borges

For most city-dwellers, the elevator is an unremarkable machine that inspires none of the passion or interest that Americans afford trains, jets, and even bicycles. Wilk is a member of a small group of elevator experts who consider this a travesty. Without the elevator, they point out, there could be no downtown skyscrapers or residential high-rises, and city life as we know it would be impossible. In that sense, they argue, the elevator’s role in American history has been no less profound or transformative than that of the automobile.

(Excerpt) Read more at bostonglobe.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: america; elevator; elevators; transformed
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1 posted on 03/01/2014 7:02:01 AM PST by Borges
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To: Borges

Am I the last ‘professional’ elevator operator standing? I earned money for my college expenses operating the elevator for J. C. Penney. The bank of elevators eventually was replaced by an escalator and then the store was closed.


2 posted on 03/01/2014 7:10:53 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Borges

I prefer the stairs. Been stuck before on one—I have no respect for them.


3 posted on 03/01/2014 7:14:17 AM PST by windcliff
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I had a friend who was an heir to the Otis Elevator fortune! I’ve since lost touch. I love a good elevator.


4 posted on 03/01/2014 7:14:28 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Borges

My brother, who used to build elevators, says they are the safest mode of mass transportation.


5 posted on 03/01/2014 7:16:37 AM PST by Auntie Mame (Fear not tomorrow. God is already there.)
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To: Borges

elevators are engineering marvels.

perfected every decade, we now take their reliability for granted but think of the number of trips and the low percentage of minor failures and infinitesimal small percentage of major failures.


6 posted on 03/01/2014 7:18:20 AM PST by KC Burke (Officially since Memorial Day they are the Gimmie-crat Party.ha)
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To: Borges

Interesting article. But I’d suggest that it wasn’t the elevator that ushered in the skyscraper age in America: it was the use of steel frames for construction in place of the wood frame and concrete block construction that was typical of buildings at the time. If you go into older neighborhoods of a city like New York you’ll find tons of 2-3 story buildings that couldn’t be built any taller with concrete blocks.


7 posted on 03/01/2014 7:20:52 AM PST by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Am I the last ‘professional’ elevator operator standing?

Sir, thank you for your service. As a kid I marveled at the skill of the elevator operators in Detroit's skyscrapers, zooming up and down, matching the floor level of the elevator to the building's floor with a single adjustment. And those snappy uniforms - my dream job. Then they automated the elevators and took all the glamor out of it. Bummer.

8 posted on 03/01/2014 7:30:07 AM PST by shove_it (long ago Orwell and Rand warned us of Obama’s America)
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To: Borges

I am thankful for the cities because they keep most leftists from invading the rural areas. Now if they would just build large fences around them and on our borders.


9 posted on 03/01/2014 7:30:21 AM PST by soycd
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To: Alberta's Child

Europe has quite a few building of more than three stories standing for hundreds of years ,no elevators and no steel frames. Seems about 7 floors was the usual limit of construction material and techniques.

No doubt elevators are more important than the steel frame in skyscrapers because no one would build a structure if it couldn’t be easily used;and climbing 40 flights of stairs several time daily would be ridiculous!


10 posted on 03/01/2014 7:32:53 AM PST by hoosierham (Freedom isn't free)
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To: miss marmelstein

..growing up in NJ, we had a big factory owned by Otis (in Harrison) that we used to ride our bicycles by all the time. It was perfectly located..had access to barges (river one side) rail, (tracks ran right inside) and highway very close by.....


11 posted on 03/01/2014 7:33:53 AM PST by Doogle (USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: shove_it

“What floor, please?”


12 posted on 03/01/2014 7:37:48 AM PST by A_Former_Democrat ("Four dead in Benghazi")
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To: A_Former_Democrat

Mezzanine.


13 posted on 03/01/2014 7:41:03 AM PST by shove_it (long ago Orwell and Rand warned us of Obama’s America)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
I used to have to deliver documents to an upstairs department at a downtown bank......there were two man-operated elevators.

The operators were identical twin brothers, who always dressed alike -- I regularly saw many doubletakes from newbies to the bank.

14 posted on 03/01/2014 7:42:17 AM PST by ErnBatavia (The 0baMao Experiment: Abject Failure)
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To: Borges

I can’t get into one without thinking about that scene from “The Omen.”


15 posted on 03/01/2014 7:45:03 AM PST by Lizavetta
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To: ErnBatavia

Like the bank tellers made redundant by ATMs, Caliph Baraq grieves daily for the unemployed elevator ops.


16 posted on 03/01/2014 7:45:48 AM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: Alberta's Child
Actually, there is an interesting synergy with steel structures and elevators. You need a steel frame to go much above 7 floors, or walls become ridiculously thick to support a concrete or block frame. But there is little point in building much higher unless you have elevators to move people up to those higher floors. Of course the real break thru made by Otis was constructing an elevator with automatic safely features to prevent the dreaded free-fall.


17 posted on 03/01/2014 7:47:41 AM PST by Flick Lives ("I can't believe it's not Fascism!")
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To: Auntie Mame

My brother, who used to build elevators, says they are the safest mode of mass transportation.
//////////////////////////////////////////
Tell that to the people trapped in the horrifying movie, ‘Devil’.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYy7igKD21A

(highly recommend if you haven’t seen)


18 posted on 03/01/2014 7:55:32 AM PST by bramps (Go West America!)
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To: KC Burke

perfected every decade, we now take their reliability for granted but think of the number of trips and the low percentage of minor failures and infinitesimal small percentage of major failures.


I understand that per passenger mile, they are the safest mode of transport there is, including walking.


19 posted on 03/01/2014 7:58:17 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed ("Income Inequality?" Let's start with Washington DC vs. the rest of the nation!)
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To: KC Burke
"We now take their reliability for granted . . ."

Except the elevators on the DC Metro train system. Every day they post a list of "elevator outages" so disabled people will know to avoid those stations. And the damned things only go two or three stories!

20 posted on 03/01/2014 8:00:20 AM PST by jumpingcholla34
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To: afraidfortherepublic

A warehouse overstock store I shop at occasionally still had an elevator operator when I went there last year. I have no idea how that old freight elevator to the electronics department on the third floor passed inspection.


21 posted on 03/01/2014 8:02:33 AM PST by KarlInOhio (Republican amnesty supporters don't care whether their own homes are called mansions or haciendas.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Am I the last ‘professional’ elevator operator standing?

***
You triggered a flood of memories for me. In the 1950s, I was a little girl growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore. When my mother wanted to shop in a big store, she rode a bus into Baltimore.

Such an adventure for me. I learned years later that, of her 9 children, I was the one she had the least bit of trouble with on such trips. I remember sitting on the bus mesmerized by the beautiful downtown architecture, some of which is still there.

Riding an elevator was a thrill for me, as there were no elevators in my little suburban world. And I envied the elevator operator. She wore a uniform of some sort — I remember khaki and some brown tones — and she got to push the buttons and announce each floor and what it had to offer.

Sorry. Did not mean to highjack this thread....


22 posted on 03/01/2014 8:03:46 AM PST by Bigg Red (O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Ps 8)
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To: jumpingcholla34

Surely the devoted civil servants of WMATA aren’t failing to do robust maintenance on the system?


23 posted on 03/01/2014 8:04:08 AM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The last elevator operator I saw was running an elevator at the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento during the Arnold years..


24 posted on 03/01/2014 8:05:16 AM PST by TaxPayer2000
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To: Flick Lives

As an architect and builder in the Chicago-area, I am familiar with the Monadnock Building in Chicago, which has both an iron frame and a load-bearing exterior masonry wall (more than six feet at the base).

I worked on an elevator retrofit project in downtown Chicago in the Nineties. There are so many safety features in the system that I felt comfortable sitting on top of each elevator and riding during numerous tests, including sudden stops and stop and go action.

The programming involved in the design of the elevator system is phenomenal. The system can be tweaked to shorten or lengthen stops and recognize other cars in the system and thereby become express cars if a certain number are stopped on a particular floor.


25 posted on 03/01/2014 8:06:28 AM PST by 12Gauge687
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To: shove_it

Your post made me smile. Saw it after I posted mine at 22.


26 posted on 03/01/2014 8:07:07 AM PST by Bigg Red (O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Ps 8)
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To: Borges

27 posted on 03/01/2014 8:11:47 AM PST by JoeProBono (SOME IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED;-{)
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To: Auntie Mame

My brother, who used to build elevators, says they are the safest mode of mass transportation.


Unless you’re the last in line...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M11Lcn5cXoI


28 posted on 03/01/2014 8:15:34 AM PST by Rides_A_Red_Horse (Why do you need a fire extinguisher when you can call the fire department?)
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To: Borges

Back in my Kollege Daze, there was an old building built in the 20s that had an original elevator still in operation. It had a wood floor, a hand-operated gate, and smelled of ancient grease and oil. You needed a key to call it, but if you were on the floor where it was, you could ride it. It was like stepping back into another time. Loved it!


29 posted on 03/01/2014 8:17:49 AM PST by Fresh Wind (The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.)
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1st Quarter FReepathon

Less than $5.4k to go!!
We can do this.

30 posted on 03/01/2014 8:26:15 AM PST by RedMDer (May we always be happy and may our enemies always know it. - Sarah Palin, 10-18-2010)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Technology brings end to elevator operators’ ride ...

Sandra Buie, 72, is all smiles as she greets a rider in her elevator in the 1st Bank Building in South Bend, Ind. First Source Bank, which owns the building, recently said goodbye to Buie and the building's other remaining elevator operator. By all accounts, the two were the last elevator operators still working in the city, and possibly the entire state.

http://www.news-journal.com/news/nation/technology-brings-end-to-elevator-operators-ride/article_3766eff0-3915-56a0-817f-833e27ee9dab.html

Oct 2012 article.

31 posted on 03/01/2014 8:27:33 AM PST by shove_it (long ago Orwell and Rand warned us of Obama’s America)
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To: Borges
Without the elevator, they point out, there could be no downtown skyscrapers or residential high-rises, and city life as we know it would be impossible.

They say that like it would be a bad thing.

32 posted on 03/01/2014 8:31:24 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (If Barack Hussein Obama entertains a thought that he does not verbalize, is it still a lie?)
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To: windcliff
I prefer the stairs. Been stuck before on one—I have no respect for them...

Got stuck on an escalator once... what a nightmare. Took hours to get help.

33 posted on 03/01/2014 8:36:11 AM PST by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: Bigg Red

See #31 ... :o)


34 posted on 03/01/2014 8:38:29 AM PST by shove_it (long ago Orwell and Rand warned us of Obama’s America)
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To: Borges
The 1910 Smith Tower in Seattle (formely tallest west of the Mississippi) continues to have elevator operators.


35 posted on 03/01/2014 9:01:04 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed ("Income Inequality?" Let's start with Washington DC vs. the rest of the nation!)
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To: Borges

“Ask a vertical-transportation-industry professional to recall an episode of an elevator in free fall—the cab plummeting in the shaftway, frayed rope ends trailing in the dark—and he will say that he can think of only one. That would be the Empire State Building incident of 1945, in which a B-25 bomber pilot made a wrong turn in the fog and crashed into the seventy-ninth floor, snapping the hoist and safety cables of two elevators. Both of them plunged to the bottom of the shaft. One of them fell from the seventy-fifth floor with a woman aboard—an elevator operator. (The operator of the other one had stepped out for a cigarette.) By the time the car crashed into the buffer in the pit (a hydraulic truncheon designed to be a cushion of last resort), a thousand feet of cable had piled up beneath it, serving as a kind of spring. A pillow of air pressure, as the speeding car compressed the air in the shaft, may have helped ease the impact as well. Still, the landing was not soft. The car’s walls buckled, and steel debris tore up through the floor. It was the woman’s good fortune to be cowering in a corner when the car hit. She was severely injured but alive.”
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/04/21/080421fa_fact_paumgarten?currentPage=all


36 posted on 03/01/2014 9:07:12 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed ("Income Inequality?" Let's start with Washington DC vs. the rest of the nation!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Am I the last ‘professional’ elevator operator standing?

My wife and I was actually in an elevator two years ago that had an elevator operator. It was very old and had one of those scissor doors. The control was a sliding lever with "up" and "down". On our way down the operator remarked how while the elevator was very old it was still in great shape. I quipped that I hoped that went for the cables as well.

37 posted on 03/01/2014 9:07:46 AM PST by HarleyD ("... letters are weighty, but his .. presence is weak, and his speech of no account.")
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To: Borges

I think elevators would have a better reputation if they played better music.


38 posted on 03/01/2014 9:08:47 AM PST by SamAdams76
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To: SamAdams76

what would you expect, a pianist?


39 posted on 03/01/2014 9:15:44 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

A nice string quartet maybe.


40 posted on 03/01/2014 9:17:42 AM PST by SamAdams76
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To: Borges

“Otis! My man!”


41 posted on 03/01/2014 9:17:48 AM PST by Oratam
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To: SamAdams76

You wouldn’t need the floor indicator at the doors anymore. You would be able to hear the bull fiddle approaching.


42 posted on 03/01/2014 9:19:21 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: HarleyD
"My wife and I was actually in an elevator two years ago that had an elevator operator."

It's been a long time for me to have seen one. I remember the department stores operator would announce what was on each floor from the bargain basement upward for clothing, furniture, appliances, etc. He also had to jiggle it around to make sure the elevator was aligned exactly to the floor. They were just part of the passing scene, now gone forever.

43 posted on 03/01/2014 9:19:26 AM PST by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

“Am I the last ‘professional’ elevator operator standing? I earned money for my college expenses operating the elevator for J. C. Penney. The bank of elevators eventually was replaced by an escalator and then the store was closed.”

I’m sure there’s a direct cause and effect chain of events here, correct? :)


44 posted on 03/01/2014 9:23:44 AM PST by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: ex-snook

My dad once worked in a department store that had the crank type elevator, and sometimes on Sundays when they were closed he’d set up displays, make signs, and such and I’d sometimes help out. So I’d too get to run the elevator, sometimes the main one and sometimes the freight one in the rear. And so yes it took some adjustment to get it level. Why the cars weren’t made self leveling years ago, I wouldn’t know. But they had a mystique.


45 posted on 03/01/2014 9:23:44 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: Alberta's Child

I’d say it took both steel skeleton construction AND elevator machinery (also made with steel), oh and the electricity to make the elevators “go”.


46 posted on 03/01/2014 9:26:25 AM PST by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: shove_it

“Sir, thank you for your service. As a kid I marveled at the skill of the elevator operators in Detroit’s skyscrapers, zooming up and down, matching the floor level of the elevator to the building’s floor with a single adjustment. And those snappy uniforms - my dream job. Then they automated the elevators and took all the glamor out of it. Bummer. “

I got a kick out of elevator operators when I was a child as well. They always acted like they were god-like captains piloting riverboat elevators and would brook no dissent, with walking the elevator plank as the implied punishment. In reality of course, they were not much higher ranking than the guy who emptied the waste baskets in the offices.


47 posted on 03/01/2014 9:30:48 AM PST by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: Borges

Stories like this always give me a lift.


48 posted on 03/01/2014 9:34:03 AM PST by Colinsky
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To: shove_it

Wow! Thanks for that.


49 posted on 03/01/2014 9:39:43 AM PST by Bigg Red (O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Ps 8)
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To: Borges

and without power, elevators are worthless.


50 posted on 03/01/2014 9:39:47 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (Gone Galt; Not averse to Going Bronson.)
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