Elevators are old. They would have to be. Because it is in our nature to rise. History is full of things that lift other things. In ancient Greece, and China, and Hungary, there were systems of weights and pulleys and … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars, have a couple announcements before we get started were currently Regan figuring all the different moving parts of this shows that we can stop producing weekly episodes starting on February. Fourth, twenty fourteen that involves moving the office to Downtown Oakland, getting our new pretty. Sir mingle out here to the West Coast and attending all the various Kickstarter fulfilment details, of which there are many thanks again for that That was pretty awesome, but even though we are up to your eyeballs in back off his stuff, I still want to play some great radio for you and this week we have this with my friend Nate, the mayo of the memory palace this
Big is right in our wheelhouse, so I thought, you'd like it and elevators are old. They would have to be because it is in our nature, right to rise. So history, even ancient history, is thick with things that lift other things ropes and platforms in its employees, with people to pull them when the slaves of Rome were served up to the wild beast said the Colosseum other slaves pushed the wheels, they pulled the ropes they lifted the platforms that sent them up from the darkness below ground up into the sun and the roar of the crowd and others. In China, China in and and most Michel, one can find monks in kings, import, his hands and construction, materials and meals fit for queens and sorted concerts rising up.
Well some slave or servant or caged animal somewhere pulled on some rope or push some piece of wood around and around and around one man and friend spent the years. One thousand seven hundred and forty three inside a chimney waiting for a bell to ring, so he could pull a rope through a pulley and hoist King Louie, the 15th up in a flying chair from the ground to his bedroom balcony, haven't, walk up. A single flight of Stairs Eliza Otis was to set for the family business. He was a good looking kid and smart is a web, but he was kind of way and when he was nineteen, he moved away from the family farm and, furthermore, to figure out something to do for a living, something he wouldn't have to exert himself sell anything bought processed process. Anything sword bought or processed relived heavy things he wound up
Your factory where he and his co workers spent their days sanding curves in decorative knobs into bed posts Otis spent his knights designing a better way to do it. He painted a machine, a kind of late. They sped up the process, it increased output, it made the men's jobs. A little easier did opened up the aesthetic possibilities of the bedpost in new thrilling ways. Knobs upon knobs, upon knobs in his boss was so impressed that he took him off the floor in May. Head engineer of the maize and Burns bed, factory of Yonkers New York, so Otis got to work. Trying to solve one of the biggest problems in the place. The factory had a lift. It had an elevator alot of factories, restart it happened that these were simple machines, just picture a platform that can be pulled off the ground up to a second story on a chain or set of cables or ropes. Sometimes the ropes report
by steam power wench, but the one in the maze and burns bed Factory joggers New Yorkers, pull by a draft horse in one day, the horse pulling on the rope which is pulling the wooden platform loaded with lumber and tools after the second floor. In the rub, snapped the platform plummeted, dropping fifteen did slamming down onto the floor and onto The men below sending its cargo careening smashing into the scattering workers. Just a few years later in eighteen, forty, three Elijah Oda stood on a wooden platform thirty, feed off the ground. The elevator was loaded with lumber and tools and barrels. Just like the one in ban that Dane Yonkers in down below on the floor stood hundreds of gentlemen
Ladys, who didn't want to spend their night out in the town being crushed by construction equipment. They had come to the Crystal Palace exhibition deceiving gathered wonders of the world. A massive structure of steel and glass had risen in Manhattan where Brian Park is today, it was America's first worlds: fair in New York, The site in the gentlemen and Ladys after walking through the sculpture, gardens in the art galleries, found themselves in the Great hall filled with industrial equipment. And while they stood on the floor of the main hall moonlight streaming through, the glass roof craning their next to see Otis in his elevator floating in they may not have known that they were looking at the future. They had seen elevators before In seen, one inventor after another come up with some new way to get from one floor to another, so here was one more it made.
He was higher than they had seen before three stories instead of two, but there was no way this thing was going to catch up because who, in their right mind, was going to ride three story. Elevator far from the second floor, break your leg, far from the third, you break your neck, so they watched Otis in watched. His son nearby raise a sword. And then bring it down like an executioner slicing, the ropes that held up apply for a new audience screened and then they cheered. Eliza Otis didn't invent the elevator. He invented the break the little metal peace that catches the car and stops it from plummeting if the cable that holds it up stops holding
Eliza Otis didn't invent the elevator, but his signs kind of invented the modern world. The Otis Brothers convinced the world's aim higher the tallest buildings back in the nineteenth century, the tallest buildings that weren't churches or lighthouses, which were all show off spires anyway. We're just a few stories talk in part. These buildings were held down by the lack of engineering, know how, but just as much they were held down by stairs, people can only climb so many. So the brothers Otis came up with a killer sales pitch higher was better. They targeted hotels first and convince them to turn the idea of luxury. Quite literally upside down, before the elevator led best rooms round the bottom, for you didn't have to walk stairs or for suckers, but the Otis Brothers can
its hotels. It should be the other way around the first floors and the one on the street with boy polloi in their noise in their sweat and their fruit card sticking in the sun. In worse, the horses in the things horses do wasn't a kings thrown supposed to be higher than his servants. Wasn't a Lord supposed to Lord over. Why shouldn't the wealthy traveller be above the hotels bit they build high in the wealthy travellers, like the view and when it came time for them to build their next office building they built higher still and they bought from the Otis elevator. Buildings grew three stories to four to six in the elevators grew better and faster
The delight of passengers who loved the thrill ride of hurtling seventy feet at speeds, six hundred feet per minute up to the penthouse on the seventh floor, but though the Oda safety elevator relieve them of the fear of falling to their dooms, it created a new concern. One jined up in the paper and in the esteem pages of the scientific American, which warn the horrors of something called elevator sickness, acute, dizziness and owed to specious back that women elevator comes to a stop, not all of organs. Stop at the same time, the best way to combat this, it seems, was the brazen head up against the ceiling of the elevator as it came to a star. So all of you stopped. At the same time, the regional headquarters of the Otis Elevator Company in my home town, is a one story building. I just always thought that was kind of funny.
At another worlds, fair in Chicago in eighteen. Seventy, the crowd other to watch a dramatic demonstration of the latest, an elevator safety technology, earlier that year, a seven story. Building a New York became the tallest in the world, at every architect. In every a stranger in the Sunday circulars, drawing visions of the cities of the future gleaming towers, climbing soaring eleven and even fourteen stories in though people had grown to trust the Otis Break at four and five stories. What would happen if something happened? who have their scraping the sky. So the fair goers went out to a field where another, Ventre, had constructed a temporary elevator shaft this hundred nine feet tall and they watched as passengers, climbed to the top and step inside
and they watched as someone cut the rope to the elevator in it dropped plummeting for a few exhilarating seconds before it came to a slow start cushioned by a pocket of compressed air in the politely applauded the outcome, never having really been endowed, what But the wonders american inventors were coming up with all the time in really they had seen this trick. The world's fair, before they may have been more excited, however, had they know that the same technique had been tested in secret and Boston not long before, and when the elevator car holding aid volunteers dropped on command. The air pressure in the shaft that was supposed to cushion its descent blew out the walls, the elevator shaft, leaving nothing to stop the free fallen car, but Massachusetts Soil
many bones were broken, lies passed before eyes. All eight of them nearly died, something the eight volunteers who climbed into the elevator in Chicago hadn't, been told. The bird Khalifa Tower rises, two thousand seven hundred and twenty two feet above the desert to buy. It has histories, tallest and fastest elevator a notice. It travels thirty feet, a second taking you a hundred and twenty four floors and about a minute reviewers, have called the experience, mildly, exhilarated. The stories first appeared on the memory palace podcast by need demeanor a couple years ago. We commissioned another piece from the memory palace. I called it a bridge,
To the sky net called it a stretch. So while we hear talk about how great the memory palaces, I thought I played out for you to Bradford Gilbert had spent his career close to the ground at twenty three. He took a job as the architect for the New York Lake Erie in western railroad. It was eighteen. Seventy eight, their western was basically just western New York and just left of Waggery were Gilbert, walked. Ridges endows methods, contours and calculated it slopes and rises, build bridges and trestles and new ways to go over the river and through the woods, new route, for coming round mountains. As an older man. He would redesign grand central station, but here early twenty saw him designing less grand buildings in less central location in Avon in Hornets fill in. Stir, Ban Tom's River in Essex falls the places you waiting to get places where things actually happened.
But by a ticket. Therefore Manhattan or Saint Louis, and you can see other architects building more impressive things. You can do so Bark and marvel at six and eight and ten story, structures, mammoth Billy stone and brick and wrought iron. Holding court on whole city blocks like medieval fortress, is made for the kings of the modern american insurance industry, the emperor's of imports and exports. One of these was looking to and his empire, John Noble Stearns, had made a lot of money importing silk and he was to make a lot more unrealistic but some land in a primal occasion at fifty Broadway, it was the perfect place for new office building right down town near the ports in the heart of the growing financial industry. But there was a problem. The wan was less than twenty two feet wide. There are rules that dictate
You can build and how laws of physics and rules of men who sit on various bureaucratic boards and bodies in those rules dictated that, if Stearns wanted to build one of those ten story off towers that were all the reason one thousand eight hundred and eighty eight. He would need to build walls of stone and brick that were five feet thick with anybody windows. In that left room for an interior that was only eleven feet, wide slice off a few fee for a high away a few for a bathroom couple. Fur coat closet another for some filing cabinets and an umbrella stand It would be asking the quintessential modern tightening of american industry to work in a dark so better suited for a month.
Illuminating, a manuscript Stearns asked all the best architects for a solution. They had built medieval bell towers, come Manhattan Bank headquarters, dead, made midtown hotels that look like mountain fortresses, but what Stearns wanted was a flagstaff. What Stearns wanted was a blade of grass and they weren't in the blade of grass building business, they told them, it couldn't be done
Everyone except Bradford, Gilbert, the in House architect for the New York Lake Erie in western railroad, had an idea even the simplest stranger between two of his backwater stations often required stunning feats of engineering, hundreds of tons of cars and cargo hurdle over thin, trestles and bridges every day. What if he turned one of those bridges on its head? What? If he is one of the steel framed that so capable carry trains in built it up instead avowed, he told Stearns that if he did this, the walls wouldn't have to be five feet. Thick.
They could be nine inches in in the twenty foot wide office bases that that would create the quintessential modern tightening of american industry would have room to stretch out of legs. While he made out his rent check to John Noble Stearns, they would call it the Tower Building Stearns love the idea for a while. Until people started telling him it was completely bananas. First, he heard it from business, associates people looking out for his investment. Then it was the press. It's called the project in the men behind it. Any Artic. Architects came in from all over the country to watch the tower building rise to pore over Gilberts blueprints and they all pretty much.
Agreed Gilbert instruments radiance the walls were just to think the foundation was too narrow. Sure those quintessentially modern men could stretch out your legs in sunny twenty foot. Wine offices stacked up like cardboard boxes, but they could also be crushed to death. When the first of wind came and blew the Building Stearns Ass Gilbert to change the planes me refused. He said he was so confident his design that he would move his offices to the top two floors of the building. If the building blue down, he would have the farthest too far in the longest time to consider as mistakes before he slammed into the pavement. The first. If winds of a hurricane blue into Manhattan. On a Sunday morning, in eighteen, eighty nine, the tower building stood nearly complete in people line the streets to watch a tumble by late morning. The crowd numbered in the hundreds, curious morbid, the newspaper men who are professionally.
And ass, the wind roared, a man pushed through the crowd. He walked the pace in the tower to a construction matter and began to climb when Bradford Gilbert reach the toughest, how The whip, through its Skelton frame it more than eighty miles an hour. It was too strong for understanding the girders the crossed in the centre of what he hoped would someday be his penthouse office. It was too strong to look down at the crowd, were probably placing.
Hats and whether he would die by being blown off. The building was simply the question for sports clubs, but he crawled out to the centre of the building and pulled from a bag rope the right way to test the tide, the other into a good in tossed away down through the Anti Strasbourg when he got to the ground. He looked up and saw the lead. We hang in many who stock still held up by a building that wasn't going into the next day. The papers called Gilbert Immediate. In this time he probably deserves the Milanese ideas genius in four years after Gilbert could sit in his penthouse office in the tower building, and he can look out of his large window stretch out his legs.
Watch a whole city stretching ever higher as it took his idea in built on the memory palace by need to mail. Ninety nine percent, invisible, isn't Greenspan, Avery trouble men and me roman Mars. We are project of ninety one point: seven, local public radio k a w in San Francisco and the American Instead of architects in San Francisco, we don't think of winter as a time of growth or creation. But if you think about it, it's the perfect I'm too great. Your own website cooped up your thinking about being productive and now square space can help you do it. Whiskers based can take your cool ideas.
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-15.