Sideways Elevators? ThyssenKrupp Is Turning Sci-Fi into Reality

If elevator design was governed by a legal code, law number one would state that elevator shafts must be perfectly vertical. Law number two would state that elevator cars must be attached to a suitably safe system of cables and counterweights. And law number three would state that any elevator that violates the first two laws must be off-limits to passengers until said violations have been corrected.

Good thing elevators aren’t governed by such a rigid code — or, if they are, that no one told the engineering whizzes at ThyssenKrupp about it. That’s because the German industrial conglomerate is hard at work on an elevator that appears (at first, second, and all subsequent glance(s))to break the immutable rules of elevator construction. Here’s a look at ThyssenKrupp’s so-called cableless elevator — and what it could mean for the future of architecture and urban design.

ThyssenKrupp’s Big Innovation

According to FastCompany, ThyssenKrupp’s new elevator — dubbed the Multi, ostensibly for “multi-directional” — lacks the high-strength steel cables that support virtually every elevator currently in operation.

Instead, the Multi uses a magnetic propulsion system similar to that found in maglev trains. This reduces friction and lurching, as well as one of the most important limitations to elevator shaft height: the weight of the steel cables that support the elevator. At a certain point, the cables are simply too heavy to support themselves in the configuration necessary to facilitate vertical travel.

What It Means for the Future of City-Building

ThyssenKrupp is building a massive, hollow tower in Rottweil, Germany, for the purposes of testing the Multi. The first runs are scheduled for 2016. If they’re successful, the Multi could enter service within a decade.

The Multi has two game-changing advantages. First, it basically removes height restrictions for supertall buildings, allowing elevator shafts to stretch to a mile or longer. (The longest is currently less than 1,700 feet.) Secondly, it allows for horizontal movement — the vehicle can simply switch from a vertical to a horizontal shaft at will. Taken together, these advantages could translate to taller, skinnier buildings; more effective intra-building transport; fewer elevator shafts overall; and, eventually, the development of a localized “interbuilding” transport system within urban cores.

Potential Industrial Applications

It’s also important to note that there’s no reason ThyssenKrupp’s cableless elevator system can’t be applied in non-passenger settings, such as raw materials transport and other industrial applications. As it currently stands, transporting substantial amounts of material in traditional factory and warehouse settings requires a bi-modal solution: carts or trams to handle horizontal transport and elevators or lift-like devices to handle vertical transport.

Cableless elevators could neatly solve this problem, and dramatically shrink the amount of space needed for transport applications in the process, using bi-directional shafts that go directly to active sites and minimize the need for transfers.

Bottoms Up…Or Sideways?

Ready to buy stock in ThyssenKrupp? So are thousands of other elevator buffs. Although it’ll take multiple leaps of faith from a multitude of building owners and urban planners to turn this innovation into an everyday reality, the mere concept is worth celebrating. And soon enough, you might be able to celebrate by actually riding in a cableless elevator. Bottoms up — or sideways — to that!

5 Elevator Pranks to Liven Up Your Workday

When was the last time you played a prank on a friend or colleague? If you’re a responsible adult with more to do than time in which to do it, you probably can’t even remember the last time you let your hair down and staked your prankster claim.

Were you ever to do so again, you’d wait for a weekend night out with your old buddies or a well-deserved destination vacation without the kids. You certainly wouldn’t risk donning your jokester hat on a regular old weekday morning. Would you?

Then again, why not have a little fun at the office — particularly in the elevator, which is literally and figuratively the stuffiest place in the building? As long as you keep your prank within the bounds of polite humor and acceptable office etiquette, these five elevator-related joke ideas will have your coworkers chuckling and your personal stock soaring.

  1. Push the Wrong Buttons

If you’re standing within easy reach of the elevator’s buttons, it’s only polite to ask new arrivals which floor they’re heading to. Under normal circumstances, you’d process their selection and hit the correct button.

But what if you didn’t?

Next time you’re on an elevator, casually ask each arrival for their destination. Then, calmly input the wrong floor. An uncomfortable silence or awkward “But…” is sure to follow. Make sure to milk it for all it’s worth!

  1. Give ‘em the ‘ol Desk Routine

Looking for a more elaborate elevator prank? Carry a desk, lamp and computer (optional) into an empty elevator. Wait until someone gets on and ask if they have an appointment. How much do you want to bet they’ll have no clue what to say? Carry this on as long as building security allows.

  1. Pretend You’re on a Secret Spy Mission

Remember the extended elevator scene in Mission Impossible? Well, just pretend you’re Tom Cruise and you’ve got a whole supporting cast behind you. No one has to know the truth!

  1. Try to Open the Doors By Yourself

Whenever your elevator stops at a new floor, rush to the door (without knocking anyone over) and attempt to open them yourself. Grunt, strain or scream for effect. Once they finally open, look embarrassed and say something to the effect of “I knew that would happen anyway.” Repeat as necessary — just wait until the elevator stops!

  1. Ghost Ride the Elevator

If you’re the last person to get off the elevator and no one gets on at your destination floor, hit a random button just before you step off. You’ll send the elevator to a hopefully-occupied floor without anyone calling it. Imagine what the folks walking by will think when they see a “ghost” elevator open with no one inside and no one waiting or calling it? You might not be there to see the results, but you can bet any passers-by with a sense of humor will thank you for your creativity.

If none of these elevator pranks excites you, there are plenty more where they came from. Why not try out your own and see how it goes? Just remember to tread lightly: Laughter is only the best medicine until someone gets hurt.

The World’s Fastest Elevators

In 1857, in New York City, the Otis Elevator Company installed the first commercial passenger elevator. It was high-tech stuff, climbing the heights at a staggering rate of 40 feet per minute. It was a modern-day marvel, for its day.

Fast forward to 2015, and you’ll find countries around the world racing to build ever taller skyscrapers. This has given birth to an unofficial competition among elevator manufacturers to develop a new generation of elevators to keep pace with the size of these new buildings. To keep up, elevator makers such as Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Toshiba have looked to improved technology. Manufacturers are putting new motors and advanced air pressure systems to use, allowing them to move people higher and faster.

If you’re looking to take a ride on one of the fastest elevators in the world, you’ll have to do a bit of traveling. Here are the top elevators that will satisfy your need for speed:

Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

A set of twin elevators in this tower top the list with a speed of 3,313 feet per minute, or 37.7 mph. At this speed, it takes a full 30 seconds to travel from the ground floor up to the roof, located 1,670 feet above. Toshiba supplied these two high-speed elevators to the Taipei 101 Tower, at a cost of more than $2 million.

Yokohama Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan

This impressive tower has an elevator bank of 79 elevators total and includes the fastest elevator in Japan. Its impressive speed also places it in the list of the fastest elevators in the world. Mitsubishi supplied the elevators for the Yokohama Landmark Tower, which reaches a height of 971 feet. The elevator moves people up and down inside the building at an impressive rate of 2,460 feet per minute, or 28 mph. That translates into 24 seconds of your life to get you from the ground floor, up the 971 feet to the top of this imposing tower.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The double-decker elevators in this amazing tower have a capacity of 12 to 14 people per cabin. Racing at a speed of 1,968.5 feet per minute, or 22 mph, these Otis-built elevators will whisk you up the 2,717 feet, from ground floor to roof, in a short 1 minute, 22 seconds.

Sunshine 60 Building, Tokyo, Japan

There is a popular observation deck at the top of the Sunshine 60 Building in Tokyo. On a clear day, visitors can see as far as 62 miles. Supplied by Mitsubishi, this elevator will lift you from the ground floor, upward 787 feet to the roof, in 24 seconds. That means you’re traveling at a speed of 1,968.5 feet per minute, or 22 mph.

John Hancock Center, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Those who are adventurous can take the stairs at the John Hancock Center, walking up the 1,632 steps to the Observatory above. Those not interested in a workout can take the Otis elevator, traveling at a speed of 1,801 feet per minute, or 20.5 mph, to travel the 1,129 feet to the Observatory in 38 seconds.

Not Your Average Lift: Check out these ultra-strange elevators

Ah, the life of an elevator. You go up, you come down, you “ding” a little, and you put the whole parade on repeat. People love you because you get them where they need to go, but are you really satisfied with the way things turned out?

Well, elevators aren’t smart enough — yet — to ponder existential questions about their purpose in the universe. But were mechanical elevators a sentient species, there would be more than a few with very complex issues to think through.

Case in point: These ultra-strange elevators that do a whole lot more than ferry office drones or condo-dwellers from one floor to the next.


That’s German for “AquaDome,” apparently. Tucked into a trendy Radisson Blu hotel in central Berlin, AquaDom is an 80-plus-foot elevator encased in a 260,000 gallon aquarium tank. If that’s not mind-bending enough, there are actual fish in the aquarium. Popular Mechanics has all the watery details on this stunning piece of modern engineering. No word on how much the elevator cost, but we venture to guess a lot of elevator buffs are about to figure out how much plane tickets to Berlin will set them back.

Anderton Boat Lift

Boat lifts were once vital to the functioning of the small canals that dotted the hilly British landscape. Back before the advent of reliable, easily controlled hydraulic technology that could raise or lower boats in locks, these boat elevators literally lifted boats out of the water at one end of a canal and deposited it in the “next” (higher or lower) canal, obviating the need for a lock. Anderton Boat Lift is one of the finest and best-preserved examples of a boat lift.

Luxor Hotel Elevators

Las Vegas’s Luxor hotel is immediately recognizable on the city’s skyline: “It’s the pyramid one, mom!” Turns out pyramid-shaped hotels need diagonal elevators; Luxor’s follow a shaft set at a 39-degree angle. Talk about a dizzying ride.

Gateway Arch Tram

Same idea, different application. St. Louis’s Gateway Arch is basically a hollow half-circle with an observation deck at its highest point. To get there, visitors need to ride a tram that follows the curve of the arch — starting at a nearly vertical angle, then leveling off as the vehicle nears the top.

The Mitsubishi Bullet Elevator

Who’d be crazy enough to design an elevator shaped like a bullet? The mad scientists at Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, that’s who. Mitsubishi’s brand-new bullet elevator, complete with a tapered tip and aerodynamic skin, is slated for installation soon in a supertall Shanghai skyscraper.

It Gets Weirder

These are just a few of the many “alternative” elevator types that make the world go ‘round. Believe it or not, brilliant people at major universities and corporations are hard at work designing even stranger elevators, or at least technological components that may one day make extant elevators just that much weirder. On balance, this is a great thing for society. And it’s definitely less boring than your daily elevator journey.

Space Elevator: Is It Going to Happen?

The concept of an elevator into space is nothing new; engineers and scientists have talked about it for more than 100 years. Until now, it was nothing more than an extremely exciting dream. But a remarkable advance in nanotechnology could mean riding a space elevator on a diamond cable may not be out of the question.

Penn State University’s scientists published a research paper recently that detailed the steps needed to produce ultra-thin “diamond nanothreads.” These cylinders of carbon atoms are so small, the naked human eye cannot see them. Their tensile strength, however, is almost a hundred times stronger than steel. A space elevator would consist of a carbon nanotube cable between the surface of the Earth and the surface of the moon. Levitating magnetic robotic cars would then run up and down it, transporting people and supplies.

Ride to the Border of Space

Making a trip to the moon via a space elevator would take about seven days. People and/or cargo making that 59,651-mile trip would have to be accommodated for that amount of time. That’s twice as long as a spacecraft would take to make the trip. However, the cost to travel up on the space elevator would be much lower.

That’s quite a motivation to make a space elevator a reality, and Japanese construction firm Obayashi Corporation is focusing on the challenge. Obayashi announced recently that they will have a functioning space elevator in the coming 35 years or so. Several universities have agreed to work with Obayashi in developing the parts for the elevator. Central to the concept, however, is the development of the nanotube cable.

Research scientists at Obayashi Corporation believe that a nanotube cable long enough to support a space elevator will be possible by 2030. Right now, however, the length of the cable that can be produced is a mere 3 cm. in length.

Potential problems

Not everyone is so optimistic. There are still technological, logistical and political problems that must be overcome before a space elevator venture could become reality. Here’s some of the possible deal-breakers when it comes to constructing a space elevator:

  • Strong building material needed. This is the biggest problem. While some researchers tout the properties of nanotube cable, others express concern that the hexagonal bonds of the carbon nanotubes will simply unravel when exposed to the amount of strain a space elevator would face.
  • Dangerous vibrations.  Some have expressed concern that the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun, coupled with unstable pressures from gusts of solar wind, would shake the space elevator’s cable.

Climbers wobble.  Because of the Coriolis Effect, a climber on the space elevator would create a wobble effect. This would force the cable in the opposite directions of the Earth’s rotation.  Mechanical engineers predict this would pull the elevator out of its vertical alignment, causing it to swing back and forth like a pendulum. When dealing with a distance as long as a space elevator would be, even the smallest of deviations would result in a wobble. This would, in turn, cause a wobble that resulted in the end of the cable being far removed from the orbital position that was intended.

5 Elevators for Thrill Seekers

Raise your hand if you love riding in elevators.

That’s what we thought. But if you devote any time at all to thinking about elevators, you’re probably aware that these mechanical wonders come in all shapes, sizes and speeds. In other words, the painfully sluggish, three-story lift at your local library isn’t the be-all-end-all of elevator technology. And it’s certainly not the only option for folks in the mood for a more thrilling elevator ride.

By contrast, these five elevators are thrilling, at least insofar as local building codes and safety constraints allow. Heck, they’ve been known to turn even the most jaded office drones into vertical speed demons.

Which ones are you most looking forward to riding?

  1. Guangzhou CTF Finance Center Elevator

According to Gizmodo, the under-construction Guangzhou CTF Finance Center will house the world’s fastest (ever) elevator when completed in 2017. The report indicates that the Hitachi-built machine will take just 43 seconds to travel nearly 1,500 vertical feet, a never-before-achieved speed that’s the very definition of breathtaking. Among other fun facts, this new elevator will need to have brakes capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 550 degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than your Thanksgiving oven.

  1. Burj Khalifa Elevators

Hold onto your hats! If you like a thrilling elevator ride, head out to Dubai and check out the stunning Burj Khalifa’s express elevators. Though they travel at “only” 26 miles per hour (a sedate pace compared to Guangzhou’s beast of a vertical transport), the Burj Khalifa’s extend higher above ground level than any other elevator in the world. They’ll be surpassed soon enough, but for now, they offer a view that quite literally can’t be beat.

  1. Mitsubishi “Bullet Elevator”

China is ground zero for thrilling elevators these days. According to Yahoo News, Mitsubishi just unveiled a superfast “bullet elevator” that’s slated for installation in China’s Shanghai Tower. With top speeds of more than 40 miles per hour, the vehicle doesn’t literally move as fast as a speeding bullet — but it does pack quite a punch.

What’s behind the bullet elevator’s sheer power? For starters, a sleek, aerodynamic shell that reduces wind resistance and friction. The bullet elevator also boasts regenerative motors of the sort found on hybrid cars. And super-strong cables reduce elevator weight, allowing for a more efficient ride. Not bad for a bullet.

  1. New York’s Freedom Tower

Technically we’re calling it One World Trade Center now, but “superfast Freedom Tower elevator” just has a better ring to it.

In any case, the tower’s observation deck elevators boast 2.3-ton motors that can reach sustained speeds of up to 23 miles per hour and offer one of the longest continuous elevator rides (nearly 1,500 vertical feet) in the world. Buckle up!

As buildings get taller and time gets shorter, elevators will continue to go faster. One day in the not-so-distant future, our descendants might look back on these five elevators on this list and laugh at the idea that we once found them exciting. By then, they could well be riding gravity-defying elevator cars into low earth orbit or boarding cableless elevators for trips across entire neighborhoods. Talk about a thrill ride!

Weird Elevators Around the World

With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, we could say that an elevator by any other name is still an elevator. But that’s not entirely accurate when you consider some of the innovative and creative ways that we humans have designed do get us from point A to point B, in a vertical fashion.

There are innumerable elevators in the world but only a few can truly be called unique. We’ve put together a list here of some of the weird elevator designs from around the world. So in your global travels, give a look to these amazing examples of human engineering:


If you’re traveling in Berlin-Mitte, Germany, take time to visit the Radisson Blu hotel. Here you’ll find the AquaDom, a transparent elevator in the center of an 82-foot-tall aquarium. This amazing aquarium holds more than 260,000 gallons of saltwater. More than 1500 fish, representing 50 different species, make their homes here. There are three or four divers whose job is to feed the fish their almost 18 pounds of daily food.

Burj Khalifa Elevator

It seems only right that the world’s tallest building is the home of the world’s fastest elevator. The Burj Khalifa elevator jets visitors upward at a rate of 30 miles per hour, reaching the top floor in only 35 seconds. That’s 2038 feet straight up in 35 seconds. These elevators use double-decker cars, each with its own fancy light show, to service the many floors of the building.

Anderton Boat Lift

Cheshire, England, is home to one of the oldest surviving boat lifts. A boat lift is an enormous engineering project. Its purpose is to raise or lower a boat to move it from one body of water to another that’s at a different elevation. The Anderton boat life was built in 1875 then shut down in 1983. It was restored to use in 2002.

Luxor Hotel Inclined Elevator

No list of things ornate and bizarre would be complete without a mention of the Luxor Hotel’s inclined elevator. Las Vegas hotels are known for doing things differently, and the iconic pyramid of the Luxor Hotel means the elevators must travel on an incline. This 39 degree incline gives riders a breathtaking look at the hotel’s atrium, which is one of the world’s largest.

Gateway Arch Tram

No trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit to the Gateway Arch. To get to the top, a train of eight cars, each with 5 seats, takes you on a 4-minute ride to the observation deck at the top of the iconic Arch. Two trams, one from each leg of the Arch, disembark from the legs every 10 minutes. This keeps the passengers on a level plane, much like a Ferris wheel’s gondola, throughout the trip.

Sky Tower

The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, is not designed for those afraid of heights. Each of the four cars that make up the elevator boasts a glass window in the floor. Riders get to see the ground drop away as they ride up and down the 70-story building, with nothing but the transparent glass between them and the open space below them.

4 Reasons Why Elevator Surfing Isn’t Such a Good Idea

Have you ever been elevator surfing?

If not, or if you don’t have any idea what elevator surfing is, good. Keep it that way.

If you have…well, let’s just say it might not be such a good idea.

What Is Elevator Surfing?

As the name implies, elevator surfing is the practice of riding on top of a moving elevator. Per Wikipedia, elevator surfing is also known as “vator surfing” and “elevaroping.” Elevator surfers generally remain on the same car for the duration of a ride, though some more adventurous, experienced and foolhardy souls may jump onto passing cars if the opportunity presents itself.

Elevator surfers generally seek the sort of adrenaline rush you can’t get from riding inside an elevator car. It’s also fun to move an elevator car using the manual controls on the vehicle’s roof — though most elevator surfers have friends inside the car to push buttons manually, or simply wait for unwitting passengers to enter the car and do so themselves.

It’s worth noting that elevator surfing is illegal in and of itself, and enthusiasts must typically commit additional misdemeanors (such as trespassing in an off-limits shaft or stealing an elevator service key) to achieve their goals.

Here are four more reasons why elevator surfing isn’t a good idea:

  1. The Emergency Stop Button Isn’t Foolproof

Though modern elevators generally have an emergency stop button, its efficacy isn’t guaranteed. Plenty of unscrupulous building owners simply don’t follow through on inspectors’ requests to fix defective equipment, leaving elevator surfers prone to disaster. And there’s always the risk of a freak failure.

  1. Counterweights Present Serious Dangers

Most elevators use counterweights to balance out the heft of the car. These objects are relatively innocuous until you fly past at 40 miles per hour. If you’re riding atop an uncontrolled car at that speed and smash into something that weighs several tons, the results aren’t going to be pretty.

  1. Sudden Stops and Starts Can Disrupt Balance

Many elevator surfers avoid faulty emergency stop buttons or rogue counterweights, only to fall victim to much more mundane elevator processes: namely, sudden stops and starts. If you’re not secured to the elevator, a sudden stop could be enough to dislodge you from your perch and send you plummeting to your death in the shaft below.

  1. It’s Difficult to Gauge Shaft-Top Headroom from Below

One of the more gruesome fates that can befall an elevator surfer is the “top-end crush” — i.e., running out of room at the top of the elevator shaft. Some elevators sit nearly flush against the protective caging near the top of the shaft, while others leave plenty of room. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell which is which ahead of time.

Stay Smart, Stay Alive

Most people intuitively understand that elevator surfing is dangerous and would never even consider participating. But, as the old saying goes, “there’s one born every minute.” Since the 1990s, there have been several confirmed elevator surfing deaths and many more confirmed injuries. Given the nature of elevator surfing, it’s likely that there are plenty of other deaths and injuries that we don’t know about. Unless you’re a qualified elevator service technician, do your friends, family and building supervisor a favor and stick to the inside of the elevator car.


Haunted Elevators Across the U.S.

When you stop to think about it, elevators are the perfect setup for frightening scenarios: tiny, claustrophobic little rooms suspended in a huge, open shaft by cables. With their doors potentially opening at any floor, there’s the possibility of it opening into any kind of ungodly situation. Since that renowned scene of cascading blood in Stephen King’s The Shining, the horrifying potential of elevators has become a normal component of modern pop culture.

Before that movie, however, there existed stories of real life terrors centered on elevators. We’ve put together a list of some of the most mystifying, and possibly haunted, elevators to be found in the U.S.:

Kennesaw House

Located in Marietta, Georgia, the Kennesaw House was built in 1845. Its original purpose was intended to be a warehouse for cotton. During the Civil War it found use as an ad hoc hospital and morgue. During Sherman’s destructive march across the South, Kennesaw House was protected because of its alleged connection to Yankee spies.

Kennesaw House is now a museum. Visitors have told of horrifying experiences where the elevator doors opened to reveal the grisly scene of the Civil War-era hospital, complete with screaming Civil War soldiers screaming, writhing in agony from their wounds and dying. Still other visitors have reported an old Civil War surgeon sharing an elevator ride with them.

Adolphus Hotel

This magnificent hotel was built in Dallas, Texas, in 1912 by Adolphus Busch of the Anheuser-Busch family. The 22-story building was recognized as the tallest in the state for many years. It is the 19th floor that is the location of the building’s reported hauntings. The 19th floor used to house the ballroom, and legend says a bride who was left at the altar hung herself there in the 1930s. Visitors report seeing her face in the hotel, and there is video posted online showing the elevator doors opening and closing sporadically, and of their own accord, on the 19th floor.

Grain Elevators

When Buffalo, New York, was a bustling industrial city, massive grain elevators were constructed. After World War II, industry waned in the area and the buildings were abandoned. These gigantic buildings were the sites of multiple worker injuries and deaths in the pre-OSHA industrial revolution days. Curiosity seekers report an unnerving feeling of not being alone when walking around the concrete and iron ruins of the elevators.

The Algonquin Hotel

The elevators of this hotel are reportedly home to the spirits of the Round Table room, a group of artists, playwrights, writers and actors of the 1920s. This group was also known as the “Vicious Circle.” Found in midtown Manhattan, the hotel’s guests report hearing a disembodied voice singing “I’m in the Mood for Love” in the elevator. At times, it is reported that members of the Vicious Circle are seen riding the elevators.

Denton Hall

Located at the University of Maryland, Denton Hall is home to one of the most grisly stories of elevator hauntings. The story goes that a young student, her vision clouded by tears, got her head caught in the doors of the elevator and was subsequently decapitated. It is said that her spirit, so enraged at her death, flowed into the elevator circuitry. The manifestation of her rage and loneliness can supposedly still be found in the elevators today.

How Elevators Really Work

You use them at the office and wait for them at hotels — elevators are ubiquitously present metallic beasts of burden. The 1800s brought new construction ideas into this world with the advent of revolutionary iron and steel production processes. Architects and engineers threw caution to the wind and started using their genius minds to construct buildings that looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

The only reason you can scale these gargantuan models of architecture is the elevator. Imagine living in a city like New York without one — as if not being able to drive around was not bad enough!

Not limited to just high-rises, these boxes of metal also come in handy when you are taking your grandma to the doctor’s or for handicapped people needing access to multistoried buildings.

Types of Elevators

If you want to understand how an elevator works, just imagine a compartment system being able to move because of the lifting system it is attached to. That is the plan for a basic elevator. The modern freight and passenger ones are way more elaborate. The two major designs in use today are:

Hydraulic: A cylinder is attached to a fluid-pumping system. This system has a reservoir, a pump, and a valve between the reservoir and cylinder. When the pump forces the fluid into the cylinder, it pushes a piston up which lifts the elevator car.


Since a motor powers the pump, when you press the button to go to the 325th floor, the control system asks very nicely and the motor turns the pump off. The fluid in the cylinder stays in and the piston rests on it, keeping the car in place.

When the car needs to go back down, the control system signals the valve again which opens to let the fluid out. The car’s weight— and yours —push the piston down and the car moves.

Roped: The more popular design is the roped elevator. In them, the car moves by traction steel ropes rather than being pushed from below. Those ropes have been looped around a pulley with grooves around it. The pulley grips the ropes, rotating the ropes when it moves too. A motor moves the pulley, turning one way to raise the elevator and lowering it by moving the other way.

Congratulations. You now know more about elevators than 99.9 percent of the world’s population.