Elisha Otis is not a household name; he was never a celebrity either. However, his invention of an elevator brake would change to world a business and architecture forever. Otis was born August 3, 1811 near the town of Halifax Virginia. At the age of 19 he moved out of small town Virginia into Troy, New York. It was in New York’s crystal palace that Otis shocked audiences when he ordered a man to cut the only cable holding up an elevator. The elevator fell only a few inches because of his new safety brake and at that moment Elisha Otis’s career took off.
By accomplishing this he single handedly changed the face of business. Elevators were now safe and practical and people were no longer afraid to use them. The most important impact his safety brake had was is spurred the uprising in skyscrapers. It made them safe and efficient where before they were dangerous and somewhat irresponsible. Otis first sold his safety brakes in 1853 and he even installed the first passenger elevator in 1857. After Otis passed away April 7, 1861 his two sons took over built on his inventions and his ideas and created the company Otis, Brothers & Co. in 1867. Now the Otis Elevator Company is the largest elevator company in the world
I believe that Otis was able to succeed because he worked harder that anyone who had tried before him. He grew up poor and had many previous inventions, but he really invested himself into his safety brake because he thought it was practical. Even after his large success he still could not believe that his little invention had changed the world. He devised his plan when he was working at a bedstead company so things would not fall. Eventually he kept tweaking it to the point of perfection where nobody had gone before. Without Elisha Otis the world’s largest cities such as Tokyo, Chicago, and New York City would be completely different for the worst. Imagine a city where you can only find two story buildings and employers could only hire a certain amount of employees to fit in their tiny workspace.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.