The Quick 10: 10 Notable Elevators

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Today marks the anniversary of the first installation of something that those of us who work in many-floored office buildings take for granted until it craps out "“ the elevator. I can't say that the elevators I ride in every day are particularly notable, but these 10 certainly are. I'm omitting the Eiffel Tower elevator because I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago. I was going to include Willy Wonka's Glass Elevator, but there were so many cool real elevators, I decided to exclude it too (sorry, Charlie).

OREGON
1. Oregon City Municipal Elevator "“ Oregon City, Oregon. This one is unique because it's the only outdoor municipal elevator in the United States. What's more, there are only four in the whole world. The elevator connects two neighborhoods in Oregon City; people used to rely on stairways built into the cliffs until the first elevator was made in 1915. That one was water-powered and it took three minutes for a one-way ride. The new (and current) elevator was dedicated in 1955. The observation deck at the top lets viewers check out views of Willamette Falls, the Oregon City Bridge and the Abernethy Bridge.
2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - various Disney locations around the world. As a self-professed Disney freak and lover of all things creepy, I couldn't pass this up. I don't want to ruin the surprise for people who have never been on it, but let's just say that the elevator that comprises the ride does things that you hope your elevator will never do. I guess that's what happens when you stay in a haunted hotel"¦

3. The Gateway Arch "“ St. Louis, Missouri. These elevators are technically an elevator-tram hybrid. You probably get what I mean if you've ever visited the St. Louis Arch, but if you haven't, I'll try to explain. At the bottom of the arch, you enter a little compartment that seats five people, and there are eight compartments to a tram. The compartments were done because their design allows them to rotate and level themselves out while the entire train stays on a track following the curve of the arch. It'll take you four minutes in the tram to get to the observation deck at the top, and three minutes to get back down to the sweet, blessed ground (I'm not a big fan of heights).

4. Christ the Redeemer "“ Rio de Janeiro. Yep, there's an elevator at the giant statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro. But not the way you think"¦ at least, it wasn't the way I think.

I was picturing an elevator running inside of Jesus like an intestinal tract or something. Maybe you peer out of his eyes"¦ what a tourist destination that would be, right? "See what Jesus sees!" But if you're thinking what I was thinking, you would be wrong. Embarrassingly so. The three panoramic elevators carry visitors up the steep slope of Corcovado mountain to an escalator that will take them to the base of the monument. Prior to 2002, visitors had to climb 220 steps to make it to the top.

dubuque5. Fourth Street Elevator/Fenelon Place Elevator "“ Dubuque, Iowa. I had to throw this in, because of course I'm biased toward anything from Iowa. But this elevator is cool in its own right, too. The elevator was erected because a wealthy banker (and former mayor and state senator) liked to run home at lunch and take a nap, but by the time he got all of the way to his house at the top of the bluffs, his lunch was already half over. Naturally, he built an elevator that would cut his travel time down immensely. This is actually the third incarnation; the first two burned down. From the observation decks at the top you can see three states "“ Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

6. Jinmao Building "“ Shanghai. The elevators at the Jinmao Building in Shanghai are notable for their sheer speed "“ the express elevators can take you from the basement to the 88th floor in 45 seconds. Kind of makes me want to puke just thinking about it.

7. The Buttonless Elevator "“ Tokyo Apple store. You can't push a button to make the elevator come, and you can't decide what floor you want. This is really a clever marketing gimmick to make you stop at all four floors of this Apple store, but I bet it's fun for the employees to watch customers walk up to the elevator with an index finger outstretched, only to find no buttons to jab at.

paternoster8. Paternosters, various places (the picture is of one from the University of Vienna that was used until 2007). These are widely out of use now, used to be used pretty commonly in Europe. Instead of having one elevator car on one track, the paternosters were a series of open compartments that continuously loop inside of a building. It's so-named because it resembles the beads of a rosary "“ "Pater Noster" means "Our Father." It's also called the Cyclic Elevator.

9. Inclinators at the Luxor "“ Las Vegas, Nevada. I bet the ancient Egyptians wish they had these. What makes these elevators cool is the fact that they are actually "inclinators." Because the building is sloped (as you might expect a pyramid to be), the elevators/inclinators travel along the inside of the building a 39-degree angle. Some reports call this extremely disorienting, and although I've been to the Luxor, I've never ridden the elevators. What say you, _flossers?

10. "Top of the Rock" elevators of the GE Building, New York. If you're headed to the observation deck of the GE Building, you'll be treated to a ride in the dark. Well, sort of. The lights in the elevator turn off and light above the car turns on to illuminate the glass ceiling so you can check out the ride all the way up. They also project images onto the ceiling. Here's what it looks like - kinda trippy!

March 23, 2009 - 1:03pm
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