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A Brief History of Elevators

July 23, 2020

Elevators have long been seen as a staple of our society, being present in virtually every building built after the forties. Today, they are treated as a common fixture, but they are actually a relatively recent development in architecture, and were once thought to be a luxury. Nowadays, elevators have evolved so much, from elevator interiors to speed and other accessories for convenience that they are unrecognizable from the prototypes they once were.


There has always been a need for humans to find more efficient ways for vertical transportation.


The earliest forms of elevators were machines that were referred to as hoists. These types of machines can be traced back to as early as the 3rd century BC, when human or animal labour was used to help power the mechanisms.


They relied on a series of pulley systems and the principles of weight transference. Obviously, this was not always the most effective means of vertical transportation. As human technologies continued to advance and human and animal labour was soon replaced by mechanical power, inventors began to develop ideas for modern elevators.


The first modern elevators developed during the 1800s were powered by steam, and then by hydraulics. They were mostly used in industrial settings, and most commercial buildings frequented by civilians still relied on stairs. That is, until the discovery of electricity.


Motor controls and technology were rapidly developed to increase the safety and speed of these elevators, and eventually these contraptions were deemed suitable for civilian use.


From there, designers and architects put their heads together to set the course for everything from elevator interiors to exterior design. The idea was to optimize the elevators’ ease of use for the public, and so lights, railings, and mirrors were added.


Today, elevator manufacturers and property owners continue to think of new ways to enhance elevator interiors, and specialist fabrication companies such as Demtra Sheet Metal have honed the skills necessary to bring those visions to light. Check out our website for more information on the kinds of work we can do on elevators!