Monday, June 1, 2015

The Escalator


The other day, while riding an escalator, my mind became befogged with questions: Who invented the escalator? When was it invented? How rich did the inventor become from this invention.

As to riches, I drew a blank.  But I learned a couple of things from an article by Mary Bellis.  Back in 1892, Jesse Reno had come up with an idea for moving stairs.  He thought he would use it for fun and in 1895 built a ride at Coney Island which had moving stairs and raised passengers upward at an angle of 25 degrees.

It was Charles Seeberger, however, who came up with the word, "escalator," and he's the one who redesigned the escalator and who, with the Otis Elevator Company built the first commercial escalator in 1899.

Their contraption, which was made of wood, "won first prize at the Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle.  Seeberger, in 1910, sold his patent rights to the Otis Elevator Company.

I wonder if he ever regretted that?

21 comments:

hamilton said...

Nice shot. When I was little, I was scared of the escalator. Thank goodness I outgrew that fear!

Randy said...

One of those things that most people probably don't think about. Nice post.

magiceye said...

Beautiful photograph! Interesting information!!

Kate said...

And now you have me wondering about the Otis Company. I saw there name everywhere, or so it seems, when I was a kid. Another icon for you to investigate since you did a good job on escalators. A+

Linda said...

Great photo! Sadly, a woman died here in Montreal last year after riding an escalator. The story is here if you wish to see it. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-metro-scarf-tangling-leads-to-woman-s-death-1.2516971

llandudnopictures said...

Thanks for the info, wonder if travelators at airports are also Otis patented too?

Karl Demetz said...

A symmetrical and well composed photograph, Lowell !

Andy said...

They are still around more than a hundred years later. I'm sure they will still be here in another hundred.

José Mendonça said...

What interesting information, Lowell!

VP said...

I have never thought about this, thanks for the interesting story...

Small City Scenes said...

Interesting info. When I was a kid the collective we called them 'moving stairs' but that was NOT back in 1895.
MB

Aimeecakes said...

So many questions to be prompted by an escalator!

Judy said...

I didn't know that they were built that far back in time. I know that when I was a child I was afraid to go on one. Now I am no longer afraid, I just would rather take the stairs and go up under my own power.

Sharon Anck said...

What an interesting bit of history you've given us today. Two things came to mind while reading it, first I never rode an escalator until I was a teenager. The department stores in my home town of Quincy did not have them. They had elevators with full time operators who wore white gloves (which of course got very dirty from the brass fixtures). I first rode an escalator in St. Louis on a shopping trip there. And, the escalators had wooden planks that clacked loudly when you rode it. That was about 1963 or so. In 1995 when I took that contract job that had me working in St. Louis, I was surprised to see that the two upper floors of one of those department stores still had the wooden planks on the escalator. That was a real flashback.
My second thought was about the photo you've posted. It appears that the escalator you've photographed is one of those with the glass sides. I went though a period of time around 1998 or so that I had a very hard time riding those. There was something about my vision at that time that made me feel like I was falling only when I rode the ones with the glass sides. That effect lasted two or three years, probably until I had lasik eye surgery. Whatever the problem was it went away.
That's all probably way more than you wanted to know!!

Taken For Granted said...

Lowell, I see you are moving up in the world. Isn't the Internet great for answering questions like these? Wonder if it was the same Seeberger who went on to invent the juke box?

Halcyon said...

The metro station Arts et Metiers in Paris still has an escalator with wooden steps. It's neat!

PS: Thanks for the lesson today. It was very interesting!

William Kendall said...

I find myself impatient on them, because you're always behind someone who seems to want to let the escalator do all the work.

RedPat said...

When I was a kid one of the big department stores downtown still had a set of the wooden ones - it was scary since there was so much space between the slats!

cieldequimper said...

Interesting. It looks daunting like this!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

If I thought deep thoughts like that while on an escalator , id probably forget to step off and do a face plant !! It is true that a lot of inventors sell out to big companies a little too soon and too low.

Birdman said...

Ha! Learn something new every day.

"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again." — Henri Cartier-Bresson