What can be said about Elevators that hasn’t been said a million times before?
Hopefully plenty, lest this review be incredibly short.
Elevators have been around since the mid 1800’s, and were conceived of a long while before then in sketchbooks of great minds as early as the 1400’s.
but why limit our understanding of Elevators to a mode of transportation, a simple way of traversing to point A and point B?
Airlines, Trains, and cruises are reviewed all the time after all. To neglect equal treatment to the humble Elevator is to propose that some mediums of expression of the desire to move yourself are superior, an elitist idea that any intellectual worth his salt ought to know is a travesty.
And where better to begin our exploration then the bustling city of New York? After all, where there are tall buildings, there must be stairs, and where there are stairs, there are people who want to avoid them.
Poets house, the humble home of our class meetings while in the city, has a second story and stairs avoidable thanks to a big metal elevator, one with big steel doors that look like they belong in an industrial office building rather than the little library they call home. The buttons are of white plastic, and shaped like little triangles that glow red when you press them.
To be fair, I can understand why a small organization like Poets House would think that they’ve got more important things to spend on than an elevator fancy enough to match the prestige of their establishment, but when you find yourself using the same elevator twice a day when you work there, you want the best.
Supposing it takes 45 seconds to ride an elevator up or down a floor, and someone working full time at Poets house uses the elevator twice a day, that makes 45 minutes or so every month, or about nine hours every year.
Do you really want to spend nine hours of your valuable time looking at a grey steel door impatiently?
I should hope not.
The Elevators at the YMCA Vanderbilt, while similarly dull in their aesthetics, have the courtesy of putting little notices and documents inside the walls of the elevator. If you were bored enough, reading all the writing on one of them would probably be enough to keep you busy while you go up 6 or 7 floors, but hardly entertained.
Why is it that these elevators are so classless and dull? It’s like they came out of a factory or something. (Which, Might I remind you, they most likely did.)
The walls of an elevator, (Assuming the elevator is a standard 6x7x8 volume box) have a surface area of 208 square feet. That estimate isn’t including ceilings or floors. Must all that space be one color? Can’t we shake it up a bit? Paint them orange or something? Can’t we finally build that big glass rocket powered one from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Anything?
Thankfully, there is solace for the sore-eyed elevator goers at the Roger Smith Hotel over on Lexington Avenue by Grand Central.
The moment the soles of your shoes touch the carpet inside the car, you know you’re in a machine meant to serve the best. Green marble stone walls reflect the light from behind the brass fixture and brass buttons are shined and cleaned frequently, after holding the fingerprints of the many celebrated aristocrats of the city.
Poets house deserves such an elevator as Ol’ Reliable at the Roger Smith.
But the most memorable and hardworking elevator I’ve seen in the city is right there at 80, 8th Ave in lower Manhattan.
An elevator that’s well decorated and pretty is nothing more than a pretty picture after all. An elevator must be fast, smooth in its motions, and carry out its orders with a certain air of dignity that a well oiled machine scarcely can attain.
And when things go awry, it must know how to manage itself safely in the wake of human error.
So when the elevator cable snapped, did this elevator pause for an instant when it suspected something was up? Did it collapse and crush itself and its inhabitants like an empty soda can upon grisly impact?
No, It did not. It sensed trouble and expanded its emergency breakers and stood still and stationary as a stone in a canyon and awaited the jaws of life to pry it open like a can of sardines.
Being trapped in the Elevator was an experience few would wish to relive, but it’s a vital one if you want to see the Elevator for the marvel of modern engineering that it is. We were stuck for a while, and while we were cramped, you can’t blame it. It only expected to see five of us. Its walls, for those of us calm enough to observe them, were pretty to look at, and it even had a little screen above the buttons to tell us the weather outside and how it would fluctuate so we knew whether we’d need an umbrella if we made it out within four days. And if you’re too panicked to take note of all the little intricacies of it’s design, it doubles as a soothing meditation center with a few Oms.
It was a bold and a brave elevator, and it must have hurt to have it’s doors pried open by firemen. Any elevator worth his salt would look upon him and admire his tenacity in keeping us safe.
New York is a city that never sleeps, and where there are people on the go, there will be elevators. New York’s selection of Elevators represents all locations on the spectrum of class and efficiency. I look forward to the elevators I might witness in my further travels, but they’ll pale in comparison to the machines in New York.