Passenger lifts are everywhere. In offices, shopping malls, even some peoples houses. But how much do you really know about them? Most people are unaware of the long history of passenger lifts, and of how they work.
The History of Passenger Lifts
Considering the technologies involved you might consider the passenger lift and new technology, not so. Lifts have in fact been around for centuries. It is likely that the Egyptians used some form of lifts in their building projects, but the first real evidence can be found in Greek and Roman times.
The Greeks were extremely scientific and questioned everything that was going on around them. And so it was through them that the first principles of lifts were put in place. The Romans later would develop on these principles and use the primitive lifts in their own building work, utilizing humans, animals or water to power the lift. Records show that the coliseum had hydraulic lifts fitted to lift slaves, lions, etc into the central arena.
In the seventeenth century the concept of using a counter weight was put in place by a Frenchman, Velayer, and is the forerunner to most lifts in operation today. Later in that same century the worlds first recorded passenger lift was put into place in the Palace of Versailles, for King Louis XV.
The technology was further improved upon in the early 1800's and by 1830 passenger lifts were common throughout Europe, especially in factories. But there was a safety problem, it was too easy for the lift to fall down its shaft.
So in 1852 Elisha Graves Otis developed the worlds first safety brake for passenger lifts. Without this development there would be no real safety in passenger lifts, and so we wouldn't have them in our buildings today!
The Increasing Need For Passenger Lifts
As cites' populations grow so to does the need for space. Commercial and residential space is needed to house the ever expanding population, but unfortunately there is only so much ground space available. However there is a lot of airspace.
Civilizations throughout history have recognized the need to build up as well as out, but there are limits to how high you can go without lifts. Walking 40 flights of stairs everyday (and sometimes multiple times in office blocks etc) is just not feasible.
But passenger lifts makes such upwards expansion possible, they allow us to literally 'reach for the sky' in our building. Now we can build giant office complexes, we can build large blocks of flats and huge shopping malls. It means we can keep more and more inside the city, without having to spread it out over thousands of miles, which would happen if everything had to bee kept on just a few floors.
Without passenger lifts there would be no giant shopping malls or massive blocks of flats. Rent in city centers would be far higher as there would be far less space, and large areas of space around cities, including beautiful woodlands, fields and the like, would have to be demolished to make spcae for building. Passenger lifts really are that important.
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