The Quick 10: 10 Notable Elevators

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).

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!

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.


The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.


Getty Images

There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.


Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.


Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.


A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”


Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.


Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.


Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”


New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.


During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.


Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.


Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.


Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.


More from mental floss studios