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The Most Unusual Elevators in North America

Oregon City Municipal ElevatorElevators are not necessarily metal boxes ferrying employees from floor to floor in tall office buildings or carrying residents to their high-rise apartments. Here are some of the most unique elevators in North America.

The Maritime Museum Birdcage Elevator in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada was built in 1899 and is the oldest operating birdcage-style elevator in all of North America. The elevator was intended to be used by Theodore Davie, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, but he died before it was completed.

Gateway Arch TramThe Oregon City, Oregon Municipal Elevator connects the city’s two levels. The lower level is located along the Willamette River, while the upper level is located on top of a basalt cliff. It is the only outdoor municipal elevator in the United States. The Oregon City Municipal Elevator was built in 1915. The original elevator was water-powered and took three minutes to climb the 130 feet from the banks of the river to the top of the cliff. The elevator has been powered by electricity since 1955 and now only takes 15 seconds to make the trip.

Luxor Hotel ElevatorThe Gateway Arch Tram takes visitors to St. Louis’ iconic landmark from the ground to the observation deck at the top. Eight five-seat cars carry passengers in a train. Two trams depart from each leg of the arch every 10 minutes to make the four-minute trip to the top. Passengers remain level throughout the trip, similar to the way passengers do when riding on a Ferris wheel.

The pyramid-shaped design of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas requires its elevators to travel at a 39-degree angle. Passengers can look down at the hotel’s atrium, which is one of the largest in the world.

A Stair Lift Can Increase Mobility at Home

stair liftMany Americans experience limited mobility due to age or disability. Climbing and descending stairs may become a challenge, restricting people to the lower levels of their homes. However, many people do not want to leave the homes where they have lived for years and created memories with their families. Installing a home stair lift can help you or a loved one with limited mobility move around freely and enjoy every room of your home.

A stair lift can be attached to either a straight or curved staircase to allow you or a family member to travel to the upper floors of your home. A stair lift attaches to a rail that is connected to the staircase (not the wall) to allow for a smooth ride between floors. A stair lift can negotiate sharp turns and landings between multiple floors. The seat and footrest fold up when not in use so that other family members can easily walk up and down the stairs.

Stair lifts are easy to operate and are powered with rechargeable batteries, so they will continue to work even if there is a power outage. The batteries typically last two to three years. Stair lifts also include standard safety features, such as seatbelts, brakes, footrest sensors, and overspeed governors.

Indy Stair Lifts can design and install a custom stair lift for your home. Whether you have a straight or curved staircase and want to travel between two or more floors, we can design and professionally install a stair lift that will help you or a loved one move safely and comfortably throughout your home.

New York City Museum Showcases Elevator History

elevator museumThe Long Island City Elevator Historical Society is devoted to telling the history of the machine that many New Yorkers rely on every day and may take for granted.

The museum is located in a car garage in an industrial section of Queens. It contains about 4,000 items related to many aspects of elevator design and history.

The museum contains many plaques from the late 19th century from a variety of well-known elevator companies. The collection also includes a number of instructional manuals, with many featuring detailed engravings that were individually produced by artists.

Another section of the museum contains a variety of elevator parts, including an assortment of car switches, motors, and gauges. The collection of parts also includes push stations and enunciators in a variety of shapes and sizes, car ceilings, and button plates.

Some elevator companies used to produce memorabilia to give to their customers as gifts. The museum contains a variety of these artifacts, including lighters, pens, jewelry, and pins.

The museum also houses an autographed photo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in an elevator from the set of “Titanic.”

The museum was created in 2011 by Patrick Carrajat, a retired elevator maintenance and repair worker who had been collecting elevator parts and memorabilia since he was a child. He decided to create the museum to tell the history of a machine that is so important to the lives of many of the city’s residents.

The Long Island City Elevator Historical Society is free to the public. Visits are by appointment only.

How Elevators Changed New York City

skyscrapersThe development of the elevator ushered in changes in how Americans live and work. Nowhere was this change more profound than in New York City.

Before elevators were invented, buildings in New York were generally not more than six stories tall. After elevators began to be introduced, the well-to-do residents did not want to live on the upper floors, which they believed were intended for the poor. Business owners also wanted to work on the lower floors.

In 1854, Elisha Graves Otis demonstrated a mechanism to improve elevator safety, but it did not gain much attention at the time. In 1857, Eder V. Haughwout installed the first passenger elevator in New York in his fashion emporium, but it was removed three years later because the public did not accept it.

In 1870, the eight-story Equitable Life Assurance Building became the first office building to have a passenger elevator. For about 10 years, buildings were limited to a height of 11 stories. The world’s first skyscraper, the 55-story Woolworth Building, was built in 1913. Over time, a high-rise corner office became a status symbol.

Elevators were initially unpopular in apartment buildings because they allowed for mixing of classes. To keep rich and poor people separate, apartment buildings used passenger elevators to access luxury apartments and other elevators for the rest of the tenants. In the early 20th century, New York’s landscape began to change from mansions to apartment buildings, with apartments on upper floors becoming new status symbols.

Elevators with Regenerative Drives Save Energy

elevatorsMany elevators waste a lot of energy, which contributes to higher than necessary operating costs. Regenerative drive elevators can recapture some of that lost energy and return it to the building’s power grid, leading to substantial savings.

Elevators lose energy in several ways. When an elevator slows down, energy is created in the form of heat. When an elevator that is lightly loaded or empty ascends, the motor spins, but the counterweight does most of the work. When a fully loaded elevator descends, the motor spins, but gravity does most of the work. All of that lost energy can be diverted to the power grid to fuel other systems in the building.

Power that flows to an elevator’s regenerative drive motor creates a lifting torque on the shaft and sheave that lifts the cab. When the cab descends, the motor transforms mechanical power to electrical power and pumps it into the building’s electrical grid to use in other systems. When the cab ascends with a light load or descends with a heavy one, the motor generates more power than it uses.

The amount of energy that is saved depends on several factors, such as the height of the building, how often the elevators are used, and the age of the elevator and other equipment. Since elevators with regenerative drives generate less heat than traditional elevators, machine rooms have to be cooled less, which can lead to further savings.

The cost of installing a regenerative drive system also varies depending on the type of system, the condition of the existing elevators, the height of the building, and how often the elevators are used. It is important for building owners and managers to evaluate how much energy their elevators are currently using when deciding whether to make the switch to regenerative drives.

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