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Elevators have become an almost ubiquitous aspect of the world today wherein they are found in nearly every office building or apartment complex in the world. In fact, the soaring skyscrapers and towering office buildings, which are integral part of today’s cities, are impossible even to imagine without.
The reason is quite simple, the taller a building becomes the harder it is to reach the top floor on foot. As such, it became a problem in the early half of the 18th century as the buildings were built no higher than 5 to 6 floors due to the amount of effort it took to reach the top floor. Of course, with the introduction of elevators, such a problem has been remedied resulting in building of increasingly tall buildings within the past few years.
Elevators in the Past
It is quite interesting to note that elevators have actually been invented several hundred years ago. However, their iteration was more along the lines of a rope and pulley system utilized in order to hoist heavy materials vertically so as to increase the speed and efficiency by which a particular building was constructed. It was only during the early and the mid 18th century that the rope and pulley system was modified in such a way that it was utilized in order to ferry people up and down buildings.
This system was modified to such an extent that it was utilized in a variety of buildings during the mid 1800s. However, it should be noted that its design still has numerous flaws that is why elevators have gained a grim reputation as death traps due to the very real possibility that their ropes may snap resulting in the subsequent death of the occupants as the elevator hurtles down the shaft it was in.
It was only due the invention of a protective string system and “steel teeth” placed along the edges of an elevator shaft by Elisha Otis that elevators became a viable means of transport for going up and down between the floors during the latter half of the 18th century. It should also be noted that it was the invention of the elevator that directly lead to the opportunity to increase the height of buildings. Such a contribution to the building construction will be discussed in the next section of the paper.
Impact on the Nature of the Construction
Elevators can be considered as the primary reason why vertical urbanism began within the various cities in the world. Vertical urbanism can be described as the process by which living spaces are increasingly being created in tall buildings in order to maximize the amount of space utilized. Such a process was originally unthinkable prior to the mid 1800s due to the way in which people mainly relied on stairs and ramps as the primary means by which they would go up and down a building.
With the creation elevators this subsequently changed the landscape of urbanism thereby resulting in creation of skyscrapers. It is safe to assume that without the creation of elevators, it is very likely that the construction of buildings would be more horizontal than vertical given the inherent difficulty associated with going up several flights of stairs.
It should also be noted that the invention of elevators are in effect directly responsible for the creation of the modern day city. Since vertical urbanism was in effect made a possibility, this enabled buildings to be built taller and increasingly closer to each other. As a result, this encouraged more people to congregate within urban centers, which has eventually led to the creation of modern day cities, as we know it today.
In the U.S. alone, elevators are utilized by 354 million people on a daily basis with a large percentage of the usage being attributed to people living within condominiums. It is based on this that it can be seen that there has been a major shift within the past 300 years wherein from an initial use of ferrying materials up a building for constructions, elevators have now in effect become a means of ferrying people and is considered one of the most utilized methods of transportation to date coming in a close second to cars.
Changes in Technology
Based on the video that was shown, it can clear be seen that elevators have reached a considerable level of technological development that surpasses the original design of Otis. Notable improvements within the past 200 years can be seen in the sheer difference in speed between elevators in the mid 1800s to the way in which they are like now. Whereas before it would take 1 minute in order to ascend 1 floor, at the present elevators can ascend 30 floors within the same amount of time.
Not only that, the original preventive design of having metal “teeth” located at the edges of an elevator shaft had been consequently replaced with new braking mechanisms where a sudden change in elevator speed has been noted. Another factor that has greatly improved upon elevator designs is the fact that a large percentage of present day elevators come with telephone systems located within the elevator themselves.
This enables passengers to call service personal in instances where they have been trapped in between floors. When taking all these factors into consideration, it can clearly be seen that that overall use of elevators has changed considerably within the past few decades as a direct result if new technological innovations that have not only made it safer to use an elevator but far more expedient as well.
Elevators as an Integral aspect of Human Society
One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to elevators is the fact that they have become an integral facet of human civilization as compared to their original use several hundred years ago.
As mentioned earlier, elevators were primarily utilized as a means of ferrying materials up buildings in order to make the process faster and more efficient. Yet, what must be understood is that while the pulley system that was the ancestral incarnation of the current elevator was a useful mechanism for construction, ancient constructions techniques could have still built the various buildings that the pulley system was used on. While it may have taken longer to create, the overall process of creating a building was still plausible.
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In the present day era, if you were to take away the use of elevators it is very likely that society as we know it at the present could collapse. Without elevators vertical urbanism would in effect cease to be resulting in the slow but sure deterioration of present day cities. Construction techniques would change considerably resulting in the creation of flat low lying buildings which would severely limit the amount of people that can live within a given area.
As a result, civilization would begin to revert to the way in which cities used to be formed prior to the 18th century when they were often cramped and festering with some diseases due to the way in which they were created. It is based on this that it can clearly be seen that as compared to the past times, elevators have become an almost integral aspect of civilization and are necessary in order to keep in developing.
Overall, it can clearly be seen that elevator use within the past 100 years has changed considerably, resulting in a safer and more expedient method of travel. It can even be stated that without elevators, human civilization would not have been able to develop the concept of vertical urbanism which created many of today’s modern cities since many of the buildings that are present within various urban centers today rely on elevators as a means of ferrying occupants from various floors.
When examining current trends in construction such as the Burj Al Arab, the Petronus towers and the New World Trade Center construction project, it can clearly be seen that human beings are continuously constructing the buildings which would rise up to the amazing heights. As such, this is indicative of the fact that people will rely on elevators even more within the coming decades and, as such, reveals the timelessness of this remarkable type of technology.