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.