Elevator Fun Facts

Did you know there are currently over 900,000 elevators in operation in the United States? Or did you know that elevators, statistically, are the safest way to travel? Join us as we enjoy more elevator fun facts below:Fun Elevator Facts

  • Elevators are 20x safer to use than escalators.
  • It’s safer to ride in an elevator than in a car.
  • 50 people die per year in elevator incidents in the U.S.; common causes include falls due to malfunctioning doors and entrapment between two floors.
  • By contrast, there are two auto accidents every 10 seconds in this country.
  • The average person uses an elevator 4x a day.
  • The New York Marriott was the first location to have manual user control.
  • Elevators carry the equivalent of the global population every three days.
  • The max altitude one cable-hoisted elevator can reach is 1700 feet.
  • The close button is actually a “placebo” button to give passengers the illusion of control. The close function was removed in the 1990s due to safety reasons.
  • Elisha Graves Otis is the inventor of the modern-day elevator.
  • The first written record of elevator use originated in 3rd century BC Greece, invented by famed mathematician Archimedes.
  • Elevator music first came on the scene in the 1920s to keep fearful passengers calm who were using the cars for the first time.
  • The most famous elevators are found in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Santa Justa Lift in Lisbon, Lacerda Elevator in Salvador, Taipei 101, Bailong Elevator in china, Louvre Elevator in France, and Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
  • With the number 13 being so unlucky in many countries, many elevators do not have a 13th About 85 percent of buildings with Otis elevators do not contain a 13 button.

A Look at Elevator History

The first elevators were thought to originate in ancient Greece, invented by mathematician Archimedes in 235 BC. They operated with a system of pulleys and winches. They could have appeared even earlier than that by ancient civilizations. Elevators were contained within the Roman Coliseum, and in the Middle Ages, small basket elevators transported people and goods to mountain monasteries.

The first modern elevators came about when hydraulics and electricity were discovered. In 1852, an American inventor named Otis invented the first safety device to prevent the cabin from falling upon breaking of the main cable. It debuted in 1854 in New York’s Crystal Palace. It wasn’t until 1857 when the first passenger elevator was installed, and the 1870s that elevators appeared in office buildings. A German inventor named Werner von Seimer built the first electric elevator back in 1880.


Before elevators were invented, the top floors of a hotel were reserved for low-rent tenants and servants, who had to walk up multiple flights of stairs. When elevators came on the scene, rich people could use them to gain access to the top floor, which is when penthouses became a status symbol.


Large, urban hotels were the first buildings to feature passenger elevators, appearing in big cities like New York, Paris, and London. Back then, elevators were thought to be luxury items, built to prevent guests from having to climb up stairs.

Plush Benches

The earliest lifts featured plush benches that people could rest on while riding the car. They also featured beautiful woodwork, gas-lit chandeliers, and mirrors. Operators stayed in the elevator cars to open and close the doors for guests. These early lifts were very slow, as the purpose wasn’t to travel quickly – but more luxuriously.

Contact Mowrey Elevator

We hope you enjoyed these fun facts about elevators. If you need a repair or want to order a part, contact Mowrey today.