How elevators have changed the world

Published on 2022-06-01

Since the first modern elevator was invented in the 1850s, elevators have changed the world in more ways than you might first imagine. They have had a big impact on the growth of our cities, improved the access to our public and commercial spaces, and even changed the way we live. The impact of lifts and elevators on the world and the way we live our lives today simply cannot be overestimated.

How elevators changed the world

Elevators impact the growth of cities

Since the world’s first passenger elevator was installed in New York, USA, in 1857, the world has changed and elevator innovation has played an important role both in how we expand and grow our cities and the way we utilize available land.

Reshaping our city skylines

It may not come as a surprise to anyone that lifts have made it possible to construct higher and higher buildings, but the development of tall and super tall buildings over the past century or so is nevertheless impressive. Until 1930, the world’s highest building was the 330-meter-high Eiffel Tower in Paris but today, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai boasts a staggering 828 meters. To even imagine constructing a building that tall, you cannot rely on staircases and escalators alone; you need elevators. Today, the skylines of most major cities across the world are defined by the characteristic silhouettes of their highest buildings, some of which are hundreds of meters tall, and without modern elevator technology, this would never have been possible.

Elevator invention and urban density

The invention of elevators has influenced the way property developers utilize available plots, especially in major cities where land comes at a very high price. A big technical leap was made with the invention of the first electric elevator in the 1880s and after that, an increasing number of construction companies started to ask themselves: Why build wide when you can build tall?

Today, property developers will build high to optimize the use of land and maximize their profit, whenever they can, which in turn fuels the construction of more tall and super tall buildings, all of which will be equipped with passenger lifts. Lifts continue to have a profound impact on how we plan and develop our cities. As new technological inventions make it possible for elevators to travel faster and higher, buildings will grow taller and urban density will continue to increase. Is this good or bad? You must be the judge of that, but it is a very clear example of how elevators have changed the world.

How elevators changed the world

improved public accessibility

Shopping malls and other public and commercial buildings are not only getting bigger but taller. Without the invention of passenger lifts, buildings like multi-story museums and department stores would not be available to a large part of the population. This is yet another example of how elevators have changed the world for many people.

Safe transport between floors

Lifts offer easy and comfortable transport between all floors, but also equal access to all members of the public, regardless of their age or physical ability. In places like large, multi-story shopping malls, the vast majority will use the escalators. However, if you use a wheelchair, walker, or crutches to get around, or transport kids in a pram or a stroller, taking the elevator is a much better and safer option than escalators.

Contributing to greater equality

Another factor that goes hand in hand with the development of multi-story public and commercial buildings is the increased focus on accessibility over the past decades. In fact, accessibility is classified as a human right by the UN, stipulating the right to equal opportunities and services for all, and many countries have created accessibility legislation to match. Without the existence of passenger lifts, it would not be possible to guarantee many important rights regulated by accessibility legislation.

Today, no one would even think about constructing a multi-story public, municipal or commercial building without including elevators, and there are many time and space-saving lift solutions out there, such as the lift solutions by Kalea Lifts. It is undeniable that elevator technology and accessibility legislation have contributed to more equal and democratic access to public and commercial spaces.

How elevators changed the way we live

Elevators have changed the way we live

Another example of how elevators have changed the world is by changing the way we live. This may sound like big words, but it is nevertheless true, especially in our big cities. The high apartment buildings and skyscrapers of today would not exist without passenger elevators, simply because no one would want to live there. Many people would not be able to remain in their beloved home in their golden years, and families who would want to share their house with their elderly parents would find it very difficult to do so if lifts did not exist.

Turning social status upside down

Another interesting fact is that elevators have actually changed our perception of what floors of an apartment building are the most attractive. Today, most people want to live high up in the building to get a great view, and penthouse apartments are considered the height of luxury, but that was not always the case. Before passenger lifts existed, the highest floors were normally reserved for servants and people with the lowest incomes, while the lower floors were the most coveted and expensive, simply because you did not need to climb the stairs. This means that the arrival of elevators literally turned the social status of the floors in our apartment buildings upside down.

Freedom at home at any age

Elevators have also created more freedom to choose how we live our lives at home at different ages and in different family constellations. Thanks to elevator technology, today’s house owners do not need to move to a one-story bungalow or rebuild their home to fit all vital functions, such as the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, on the bottom floor, in preparation for their golden years. If you want to age in place, installing a domestic lift can be a both smarter and cheaper solution than rebuilding or moving.

Multi-generational living

A residential lift is also a great option for families who are considering multi-generational living. Rather than reserving the bottom floor for your parents or other elderly relatives, you should think about buying a home elevator. Installing a lift at home makes it possible for your senior family members to live on any floor, sharing only communal spaces, like the kitchen and living room, so that you can build a lifestyle where everyone lives together as one big family.

Buying a home lift is a considerable investment, but it is generally less expensive and less complicated than repurposing rooms and changing the layout of your home. In addition, elevator technology is constantly evolving, and today, there are many smart and cost-efficient home elevator systems out there, like the ready-made home lift solutions by Kalea Lifts. Residential lifts like these travel at a slower speed than conventional elevators but have the advantage of being much more space-efficient and a lot faster to install.

How elevators changed the way we live

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Posted by

Johanna Aaw

Johanna Aaw is a product marketing specialist and creative writer who is passionate about interior design and architecture, especially the positive role that clever and beautiful design can play in people’s lives. Johanna believes that curiosity sparks creativity and enjoys doing research to find new angles and ideas. Her motto is: Whatever is fun to write, is usually fun to read.

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