History of the Elevator

Primitive elevators were in use as early as the 3rd century B.C.E. These elevators were powered by humans, animals or water wheels. In the middle of the 19th century, elevators powered by steam were developed and used in factories, mines and warehouses.

In 1853 American inventor Elisha Otis demonstrates a new and important safety device that prevents an elevator from falling if a cable breaks. His invention increases public confidence in the elevator. A safe elevator (along with other structural engineering advances) allows architects to design higher buildings.

Elevator patent drawing, National Archives
Elevator girl, Martha Washington Hotel