Pessimists Archive: The Elevator: “As the elevator gained popularity in the late 1800s, it had a profound effect on the way we organize our cities and ourselves. It was also blamed for a rise in crime, for causing something called brain fever, for destroying civil society, and more.”
The elevator turned cities upside down in the late 19th Century. Before the elevator, the rich lived and worked on the ground floor and the poor had to shlep up to the top of the building. The elevator introduced the penthouse and executive suite.
Whether a gentleman should take off his hat in an elevator was controversial for the better part of a century, even debated in Congress.
European nobility embraced new forms of transportation such as the automobile and train, but they rejected elevators, perhaps because they rightly feared elevators were democratizing.
The elevator is really one of the most important transportation technologies invented, even though we hardly ever think of them. It’s as important as the airplane and automobile.