Things You Don't Know About Modern Elevators

Earlier today we posted on a New Yorker piece about a man trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. But the real gem of the article was the mountain of "Did you know..." facts laced throughout. Like that Door Close button you're always pushing? Yeah, it doesn't work. Here's the full list:

  • As mentioned above, the Door Close button is there mostly to give passengers the illusion of control. In elevators built since the early '90s. The button is only enabled in emergency situations with a key held by an authority.
  • The only known occurence of an elevator car free falling due to a snapped cable (barring fire or structural collapse), was in 1945. A B25 Bomber crashed into the Empire State Building, severing the cables of two elevators. The elevator car on the 75th floor had a woman on it, but she survived due to the 1000 feet of coiled cable of fallen cable below, which lessened the impact.
  • Elevators are twenty times safer than escalators. There are twenty times more elevators than escalators, but only 1/3 more accidents.
  • Elevators are also safer than cars. An average of 26 people die in elevators each year in the U.S. There are 26 car deaths every five hours.
  • Most people who die in elevators are elevator technicians.
  • The Otis Elevator Company carries the equivalent of the world's population in their elevators every five days.
  • The New York Marriott was the first to introduce a smart elevator system that assigned passengers to elevators depending on what floor they were heading to.
  • Elevators used to require a two-man dispatcher/operator team to function. The advent of navigational buttons rendered those jobs obsolete.
  • The area required for personal space is 2.3 feet. The average amount on elevators is generally 2 feet.
  • Elevator hatches are generally bolted shut for safety reasons. In times of elevator crisis, the safest place is inside the elevator.
  • The myth about jumping just before impact in a falling elevator is just that — myth. You can't jump fast enough to counteract the speed of falling. And you wouldn't know when to jump.
  • Due to the laws of physics, elevators can't be any taller than 1700 feet. Hoist ropes become too heavy after that, snapping at 3200 feet.

And as an interesting closing note, Nicholas White, the man trapped in the elevator, received a low six-figure settlement after filing a $25 million lawsuit against the building. But in the process, he lost his job, his money and his apartment. He is now unemployed. [The New Yorker]