In 1894, some ten years before automobiles mainstreamed horizontal transportation, the Otis Elevator Company installed the world’s first push-button elevator. Arguably this small vehicle did more to reshape cities than the motor car. Roads have long been wide, but buildings only started to climb skywards with the introduction of reliably safe vertical transportation.
Few people give elevators much thought yet this form of driverless mass transit is phenomenally popular. According to the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation, over 210 billion passengers use elevators in the U.S. and Canada each year. That’s 325 million trips per day, second only to automobile journeys.
Long after the banishment of cars from urban streets – a measure more and more cities are considering – vertical transportation will still be necessary.