Elevator Encyclopedia Entry

Bruno, Leonard C. “Elevator.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, Edited by K. Lee Lerner

and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 5th ed., vol. 3, Gale, Farmington Hills, MI, 2014, pp. 1564–

1565, Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?



This encyclopedia article provides a detailed definition of the elevator. It outlines the elevator’s history, highlighting critical innovations that transformed the primitive hoists used by the Romans into the high-speed, failsafe elevators we know today. Various mechanisms for powering the elevator such as horsepower, steam power, the hydraulic plunger and finally the electric motor were explained. The principle of the counterweight was also stressed throughout the article. Discussion of the modern elevator maintained that it is fundamentally the same as earlier elevators, just with more advanced control systems and a wider array of safety features.

Since this article appeared in the Encyclopedia of Science, it is intended for an audience with at least a basic knowledge of scientific and mechanical principles and who would like to learn more about a particular topic. Leonard C. Bruno is intent on conveying the safety, efficiency and usefulness of the modern elevator. In fact, the modern elevator is practically held to be the epitome of automated means of transportation. Although this article mainly focuses on the mechanical innovations and aspects of the elevator, Bruno makes several references to how the elevator positively contributes to the growth of cities by enabling the formation of skyscrapers. Bruno also lauds particular advances by pointing out how they continue to be used in modern elevators.

This article is especially useful to me now as I begin my research. The overview of the elevator’s history acts as a springboard for further research since it names many transitional technologies and their inventors. This is also true of the discussion of the modern elevator in which a wide variety of features are listed. Since this article is a summary rather than an in-depth analysis, some of the information is common knowledge and does not provide additional insight. Furthermore, aside from the refrain that the elevator shaped today’s cities, this article is focused on the elevator itself rather than on its implications to society. It also did not include the reactions to the elevator and the fears, myths, and changes in mindset that it sparked. Overall, this article is a useful starting source and provides a relatively comprehensive overview of the elevator and its development.


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