The need for elevators has existed for longer than you might think. In 236 B.C., the Greek mathematician Archimedes designed a rudimentary elevator using ropes and a rotating spindle called a capstan. The Romans used a hauling device called a winch and counterweights to lift gladiators and animals up to the arena for battle.
Transporting goods, people, and livestock were some of the main reasons there was a need for these early shafts. Another reason included privacy. Louis XV had a few contraptions called the flying chair, for his mistress, and the flying table, for private dining affairs.
The modern elevator had its beginnings in the early 1800s, and by 1853, American industrialist Elisha Graves Otis introduced something spectacular at the New York Crystal Palace exposition: an elevator with a safety feature that broke the cab's fall in case the ropes broke, a common problem at the time. Four years later, the first passenger elevator was ready for use at a department store in New York City.
Scroll below to see some of the most stunning modern elevators around the world.
AquaDom, Berlin, Germany
The AquaDom is a stunning acrylic glass aquarium featuring a built-in transparent elevator. It’s located in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin-Mitte. Opened in 2004, the project cost about 12.8 million euros and stands at about 82 feet.
The complex is also home to a hotel, offices, restaurants, and a Sea Life Center. It takes about 3-4 divers each day to feed the fish and clean the tank.
Bailong Elevator, Zhangjiajie, China
The Bailong Elevator, or Hundred Dragons Elevator, is situated in the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie. It is 1,070 feet high. Just last year, it was recognized as the world’s tallest outdoor lift.
Construction began in October 1999, and three years later, the public was able to try it out. Some people are worried about the environmental effects of the elevator as the area has been dubbed a World Heritage Site.
Hammetschwand Elevator, Ennetbürgen, Switzerland
The highest outdoor lift in Europe is Switzerland’s Hammetschwand Elevator, just over Lake Lucerne. If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to avoid visiting this site (but we definitely support you facing your fears if you’re up for the challenge!). At the top, visitors are 1132 meters above sea level.