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The History of Elevators and Lifts

By Andy Darnley

The first elevator debuted in the mid-1800s. Prior to the invention of the elevator, people would need to walk up the stairs of multi-floor buildings. However, the idea for the elevator can be traced back to around 300 B.C. During this era, people began to use levers and pulleys to carry heavier objects to a higher level. While these simple machines helped in the construction of buildings, they were still very different from the elevators we know of today.

In 1853, Peter Cooper constructed the first elevator shaft, even though the elevator had not been invented yet. Cooper knew that elevators were being worked on and it was only a matter of time before they were ready for usage. He was right; in fact, only four years later Elisha Otis designed an elevator that would work in the shaft.

Over the years elevators and lifts have been used in several settings. While today we think of the elevator as a personal convenience, it has been used in other ways. Elevators have been used in industrial settings to carry large objects or materials to higher floors. In addition, elevators have been used in agricultural settings. Also, dumbwaiters have been in place in buildings to carry smaller items to the upper floors without having to physically go up the stairs. In recent years, stairlifts, where people can sit in a chair, have been used by people having difficulty going up stairs. They can remain in the chair and be carried up or down the stairs.

As you can see, elevators and lifts have had a significant impact on personal and industrial usage. Elevators have made work and personal usage much easier. To learn more about the invention and development of elevators, check out the resources below.