Value systems for progress:
- Usage: As the elevator continues to become modernized, it is being used in more buildings, in more cities and more countries. As the number of people who rely on the elevator goes up, we could say progress is taking place. This is in part because elevator technology is progressing, but also because it is an indication the more places are becoming developed.
- Safety: Even though the elevator is already one of the safest modes of transportation, it is constantly being updated to be safer. This is progress because of the way it puts passengers before costs and efficiency.
Value systems against progress:
- Environmental impact: Every time an elevator is manufactured or replaced, a few more resources are used up and the environment gets a bit more polluted. Materials must be either mined or created and then transported, in the process releasing gasses into the atmosphere.
- Hierarchy: The elevator is a symbol of wealth. People who have white-collar jobs and work in high office buildings and wealthy residents of fantastic penthouses all use elevators. Those who can afford to stay in the top floors exquisite hotels and those who have paid for a view only have access to these luxuries because of the elevator.
Usage and Hierarchy:
As some people rise to the top, others must sink to the bottom. Yet if the elevator is a symbol of status, then how is it that so many people use them? Especially as the gap between the rich and the poor grows, the number of wealthy people is growing at a much slower rate than the number of lower class individuals. Even so, the use of elevators continues to become more wide-spread.
One way to look into this issue more closely is to determine what kind of elevators are being used. An in-home elevator is undeniably a sign of status, while a shabby elevator in a poor apartment complex is not. The same is true with office buildings. The companies that can afford to pay their employees well can also afford to rent space in nicer buildings, with more plentiful and more modern elevators.
Historically, when usage of elevators was low, it truly was only the rich who had access to them. That is changing, and the relationship between usage of elevators and the hierarchy the symbolize becomes even more complex
I must admit that I was caught up in the excitement of the mid-19th-century world fair as I learned how Elisha Otis, high up in the crystal palace, stood stoically in his elevator as the rope was cut. Yet he was fine! This was due to his handy braking mechanism that spurred the massive growth of the elevator industry. It was amazing to observe how a single invention and a single event could so drastically change the way people thought about an invention.
It’s even more exciting to look at how cities changed as a result of the elevator. They began to grow up rather than out, and the skyline became view to wonder at. Cities have changed because of elevators, but in a way they are also limited by them and I am excited to dig deeper into this.