A Ride to the Top

By | Mar 23, 2011

Many of the things that we take for granted today were not long ago new. Others may be older than we think. When we walk onto an elevator many times we see the name Otis. And we know that it was made by the Otis Elevator Company The company was founded by Elisha Otis in Yonkers, New York, USA in 1853.

Elisha Otis didn’t invent the elevator. The basic principle of the hosting items vertically has been around for a long time. Just think about hosting goods on board a ship using ropes, pulleys and a wooden platform. What Otis did invent was a safety brake that could stop the platform from falling in case the hosting system failed.

The idea came to him while he was converting a sawmill into a bedstead (bed frame) factory. He was looking at ways to host debris up to the upper levels of the factory and saw how unsafe hosting platforms were. He and his sons tinkered until they developed the safety brake.

During a demonstration at the Crystal Palace in May of 1953 at New York’s World Fair, Otis stood on one of his elevators, asked to be hosted in the air and then ordered the ropes to be cut. The platform on which he stood dropped a few feet, but stopped. He called to the crowd below, “All safe, gentlemen!”

Otis’s first safe elevator, the first elevator intended for passengers, was installed on March 23, 1857 in the store of E.V. Haughwout & Co. The E.V. Haughwout Building, 488 Broadway, is a five-story commercial building in the SoHo section of New York City.

Otis would die on April 8, 1861 a few months short of his 50th birthday. The company passed into the hands of his sons Charles and Norton. They formed Otis Brothers & Co. in 1867. Now, over 150 years after the company’s original founding in 1853 the Otis Elevator Company , since 1976 a Subsidiary of UTC (United Technologies Corporation), is the world’s largest manufacturer of vertical transportation systems.


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