The Elevator

by Pessimists Archive

The elevator has had a lot of ups and downs. (Sorry, sorry.) As the innovation gained popularity in the late 1800s, it had a profound effect on the way we organize our cities and ourselves. It was also blamed for a rise in crime, for causing something called brain fever, for destroying civil society, and more.

On this episode of Pessimists Archive, we look at how the elevator shaped our world, why not everyone loved that, and what it has to teach us about the next big change. Because while the elevator may seem like old technology today, it has a big lesson for us about the future of transportation.


Etiquette in Elevators | The New York Times, 1866

Avoiding Elevator Sickness | Pittsburg Dispatch, 1890

The Elevator Sickness | The Daily Republican, 1895

“So This Is Africa” | Wheeler and Woolsey, 1933

Maverick Calls for End to Elevator Hat Tipping | El Paso Herald-Post, 1936

Countering the Power of Suggestion | American Psychological Association

A Mid-19th-Century Milestone in the Rise of Cities | New York Times, 2013

Beware of Cars with Minds of Their Own | Bloomberg, 2019

Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator | by Andreas Bernard

From Ascending Rooms to Express Elevators: A History of the Passenger Elevator in the 19th Century | by Lee Gray

• Our readers: Brent Rose and Gia Mora

• Thanks to our sponsors: Policygenius and The Jordan Harbinger Show

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