A good idea at a bad time: Who invented the escalator? | News

Good ideas sometimes fail because they come at the wrong time. The inventor of a device without which we cannot even imagine life in today’s megacities can tell his story.

When Nathan Ames filed a patent for an “escalator” in 1859 in Massachusetts America, no one was interested in them. Critics claim they are useless and useless. And they were right: 150 years ago there was no demand for inventions that could quickly transport large crowds up – and down again. Ames was only decades ahead of his time.

It took 36 years to bring his idea to life – even as a mere fairground attraction. In 1895, Jesse Wilford Reno built a wooden inclined conveyor belt with an electric drive for New York’s amusement park at Coney Island. Even though it doesn’t have steps, it is equipped with seats. “Passengers” can jump in and out while driving. The new facility is capable of transporting four thousand people per hour.

In 1892, George A. Wheeler patented an escalator that was actually a staircase. Because his invention worked on the same principles as current models, Wheeler is considered the true father of the escalator. However, he did not succeed either.

It still needs a mall

For escalators to eventually go into mass use, something else had to be invented: Department Stores. The fateful date was November 16, 1898, when the London Harrods department store installed escalators to comfortably transport its customers upstairs. To appease shy clients, attendants are said to stand over, who serve them alcohol upon request.

At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900, the escalator was introduced to the public. Of course, it still took a long time for them to gain a place, because in the first years there were frequent injuries – especially children.

Today, escalators have long been commonplace in big cities – sometimes even a necessity, such as in the subway or shopping centers. The classic department store days are apparently numbered…

Roderick Glisson

"Tv nerd. Passionate food specialist. Travel practitioner. Web guru. Hardcore zombieaholic. Unapologetic music fanatic."

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