Last Sunday evening, we had a little excitement here at St. Anne’s. Actually, it is not the first time in recent history that the elevator made life a bit more interesting around here. Our head maintenance man, Jeff, came over, however, and all was well once again. In the meantime, we got a little bit creative, escorting residents to the apartment wing to use that elevator since the one on the basic care side was not being cooperative.
In light of these recent events, we thought it would be fun to share a little history of the elevator, a device taken much for granted by many people.
Elevators, actually, are not the modern novelty you might think them to be. An elevator system may, in fact, have been in use when the ancient Egyptian pyramids were made.
As early as 236 BC, Greek mathematician, physicist and inventor Archimedes, made an early version, operated by “hoisting ropes wound around a drum and rotated by manpower applied to a capstan,” according to history.com. Nor did the Romans neglect vertical motion technology, Did you know that, beneath the Colosseum, they had rooms, pens and tunnels, made accessible by man powered elevators through vertical shafts. The Romans were not the only early civilization having used elevator contraptions. Around 1000 AD, a lifting device was used in Islamic Spain in order to bring up a large battering ram in military endeavors.
By the 1600s, elevator devices were found in palaces of England and France.
Closer to our own era, an elevator system was also used in France by Louis XV. Anyone having read St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul may recall her use of the image of an elevator or ‘lift, as a spiritual analogy. By her time (later in the 1800s), stem or water-powered elevators could be purchased. In 1852, Elisha Graves Otis made a monumental invention for elevators, creating a safety break. Other inventions during this industrial century also advanced elevator technology.
Along with luxury for the rich, in more modern times, elevators also served a very practical purpose when stem-powered elevators were used in coal mines. The writer of this post can remember, as a child, being sent far down into the earth in an iron-ore mine in northern Minnesota.