Friday, January 15, 2010

Making the Sky the Limit

It used to be that buildings could only be built to a certain height, and anything higher was impractical.

It wasn't so much the building materials, the scaffolding and equipment needed, or other architectural problems, as it was one simple thing: who wants to try to go up fifty flights of stairs?

Yes, there were hoisting platforms, attached to pulleys, but the ropes often broke, and they were used only during construction, in warehouses or for moving materials. They were not safe enough for passengers.

Then, a genius mechanic and tinkerer came up with what was later recognized as a brilliant idea. He demonstrated it at the 1853 World's Fair in New York. Standing on one of the platforms, he had an axeman cut the rope in front of the amazed crowd. Instead of plunging to his death, they were stunned when the platform went down only a few inches, then stopped.

After this, Elisha Otis received continuous orders for his steam elevators with the safety brake. On this day in 1861 he received a patent for the 3-way steam valve engine that made it possible for his safety elevators to transition from up to down more quickly, and to make fast stops.

City skylines with tall buildings were made possible by Elisha Otis.

Today is:

Elementary School Teacher Day

Hermit Day

Humanitarian Day

International Fetish Day

Iroquois White Dog Feast

Ivy Day

Lee-Jackson Day, Virginia

Moliere Day, France

National Hat Day

National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Pioneer Day, Idaho

Procrastinator's New Year

Seijn-No-Hi, Japan (Coming of Age Day, a tribute to youth who reached adulthood during the preceeding year.)

Birthdays Today:

Charo, 1951
Margaret O'Brien, 1937
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929
John Cardinal O'Connor, 1920
Lloyd Bridges, 1913
Gene Krupa, 1909
Edward Teller, 1908
Aristotle Onassis, 1906
Pierre S. du Pont, 1870

Today in History:

Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah's reign, which lasted until July 23, BC588
Henry VIII declares himself the head of the English Church, 1535
Third sitting of the Council of Trent opens, 1562
The British Museum opens in Montague House in London, 1759
John Etherington of London steps out sporting the first top hat, 1797
The first US built locomotive to pull a passenger train begins its first run, with Mr. and Mrs. Pierson on board for the first US railroad honeymoon trip, 1831
The donkey is first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party, in Harper's Weekly, 1870
The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is originally incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia, 1889
Tchaikovsky's ballet "Swan Lake" premieres in St Petersburg, 1895
Dr. Lee DeForest patents a 3-element vacuum tube (one of the inventions that later made radio possible), 1907
The Boston Molasses Disaster, 2 million gallons of molasses spill, 21 killed, over 150 injured, 1919
The US Supreme Court rules that "clear and present danger" of incitement to riot is not protected speech and can be a cause for arrest, 1951

1 comment:

  1. One wonders if Mr. Otis could have possibly envisioned what his invention would turn the world into! :)