If you thought all elevators ran with cables, you wouldn’t be alone. These types of elevators, called traction elevators, were the original configuration for passengers needing a “lift” as far back as the third century BC. There were steady improvements over time, but the roped elevator took a giant leap forward in 1852 when Elisha Otis cut the cable on an elevator platform suspended at the New York World’s Fair. The elevator did not crash due to a new device he invented called a roped safety. Thus the modern elevator was born.
Since then tens of thousands of traction elevators have been installed and they have become the image that pops into our heads when we think about how elevators work. This maybe because they are the ones we see in movies. Roped elevators are suspenseful when the cables are down to their last thread and about to break, threatening to drop the hero/heroine down a 50 story shaft. The scene usually involves dramatic music, fire and a longer than necessary goodbye or a steady stream of one liners that make elevator people cringe. Click to find out about hydraulic elevators.