Elisha Graves Otis didn't really invent the
elevator, but he invented something that is much more important, the elevator brake!
In 1845 he moved to Albany, New York and invented a railway safety brake. In 1852 he
moved again and he was faced with the problem of the safety of hoists. Although hoists
were definitly not new, Otis' inventive nature told him that a braking system was needed
to improve their poor safety record. His solution was a steel wagon spring that could mesh
with a rachet, so if the rope broke the spring would hold the elevator.
In 1854 Otis demonstrated his new elevator in New York to a large audience. He had
someone cut through the rope holding the elevator up. The elevator, to the suprise of the
crowd didn't move an inch. Otis never new that his invention would fuel a race for the
worlds tallest buildings.