Historical Newspaper Article – Speeding Up the Elevator

Speeding Up the Elevator For Our Taller Skyscrapers. (1931, Apr 05).New York Times (1923-

Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/99123876?


This newspaper article was published at a time when elevator technology was improving at a rapid rate and cities were using it as a means of increasing the height of their office buildings. A new set of rules for the construction, installation and operation of elevators had been created and was up for consideration at the time of this article’s publication. The author was convinced that these rules would be adopted since new elevator technology had made the previous regulations obsolete. He also went on to discuss the speeds of elevators, noting that elevators can reach accelerations higher than those the human body can handle. Two other topics that were discussed in depth were the level of automation in elevator control systems and the economic limitations on building heights due to the elevator space required. The concept of two elevators in a single shaft and the introduction of higher speeds were also considered in the article as a means of lowering elevator economic impact.

The author of this article uses an excited tone as he describes the new developments in great detail. He is especially enthralled with the high speeds that elevators are capable of reaching, noting highest possible speeds as well as practical ones. The new high-speed elevator is even anthropomorphized and is given “electromechanical brains, senses and muscles”. In particular, the author stresses the “intelligence” of the control system as the elevator brings its passengers to the exact floors they desire, performing the operator’s job with extreme precision. The use of occasional numerical data as well as two labeled depictions of elevator systems helps increase the author’s credibility. In addition, when discussing the concept of a two car elevator shaft, he considers both the pros and cons of implementing such a system. Although some of the descriptions are rather flowery, the effect of which is to engage the reader, this article is obviously based on fact and effectively communicates the state of elevator technology in 1931.

This article is extremely useful to me in determining attitudes towards elevators at a time when improvements in speed and control systems had caused them to become a new technology. The author’s excited tone shows how readily elevators were accepted. This article also provided insight into the reasons for increased elevator efficiency. After all, efficient elevators mean fewer elevators are needed to service a building which in turn means more rentable space is available. In addition, the author imparted a sense of awe about how seemingly all aspects of riding an elevator are automated and about the high speeds that are now achievable. This newspaper article is essentially a snapshot of the past, highlighting the views, attitudes and hopes about the elevator.


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