Vulcan Park’s Unique Elevator

Just four hours north of our EW offices here in beautiful Mobile is Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham. One of the main attractions is Vulcan Park, which features the largest cast iron statue ever produced in the United States – The Vulcan. Over-looking the city, the Vulcan, which is the Roman god of fire and forge, was chosen in 1903 to represent the city. It was showcased at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, by its Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti.

In 1936, Vulcan was finally installed at its current perch atop Red Mountain in Birmingham.

He stands 56 feet (17.1 meters) tall on top of a 124 foot (37.8 meter) pedestal for a total height of 180 feet (55 meters).

Being in the elevator industry the first thing I noticed when I visited the park a couple of weeks ago, was of course the exterior elevator!


The elevator to the observation deck was added in 1971 as part of a modernization project for the entire park. Between 1999 and 2004, it was decided that the park should return to its original 1930’s design. In addition to a major restoration on the statue itself, the elevator was completely modernized.

The shaft was specifically positioned so that it would not be visible when viewing Vulcan from the front. But Vulcan can’t have just any ordinary elevator. It had to be unique. The shaft is glass on two sides allowing for visitors and riders to see the rope and pulley system at work. The mechanisms for which are placed below ground level.

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The elevator takes riders to the top for a stunning view of the city:


As President & CEO of Vulcan Park and Museum, Darlene Negrotto noted: “While many younger visitors enjoy running up the 159 steps in the observation tower, well over a million visitors have enjoyed the comfort of the elevator since the park reopened in 2004.”

Thanks to Darlene Negrotto, President & CEO and Morgan Berney, Director of Marketing and PR, for helping out with the historical information.

You can visit the park’s website at


Thanks for reading,



Restored ‘Lion Elevator’ at Work in Rome’s Gladiator Colosseum

Between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. events at the world-famous amphitheater in Rome used 24 man-powered elevators to raise wild animals into the arena.

Restoration of the device took 15 months.  It took eight men to operate each of the 24 lifts plus several more to keep the ropes in working order.  Thats over 200 people used to lift animals into the arena.

Among the animals lifted into the site were lions, leopards, bears, wolves, ostriches and deer. Bones and skulls of these animals were found in the basement of the Colosseum by archaeologists.

Pretty amazing.  Check out the video below to see how the system actually operated:


Curious George in the Big City

Reading to a toddler every evening will expose you to a wide range of children’s literature, some of which relates to the elevator industry at times. One of my son’s favorite books is a collection of Curious George’s “New Adventures” published by Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, A Treasury of Curious George. In this collection, Curious George in the Big City tells the story of how George gets lost in New York City during the holiday season, and how he is later reunited with his friend, the man with the yellow hat.

In the scene below, George is trying to get away from an angry department-store clerk who is trying to catch him, because he upset a display of gift boxes. Unfortunately, George could never serve as the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation’s mascot for obvious reasons.

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As George goes around the city trying to find the man with the yellow hat, he hears a tour guide telling a group of people that they were going “up.” Someone at the Empire State Building must have had a generous heart that day.

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George gets a breathtaking view of the city once he is on top of the building. It was a little bit of a shock the first time I read this story and saw the Twin Towers featured prominently in the city skyline. That’s because this book was published on August 27, 2001, days away from the 9/11 attacks.

2008 01010Curious George continues to look for his friend while riding a bus around the city. Finally, he sees the department store where the story began. The man had been there the whole time, looking for him. May we all have such luck in being found in the place we originally got lost.



Photos of the Elevator World Contest 2015

This was the best year yet for our Third Annual “Photos of the Elevator World” contest! Thank you to everyone who participated. A team of EW judges has narrowed each category down to the finalists. Now the power is in YOUR hands – click here (or paste in your browser) to vote for your favorites. Voting ends June 19 so start today!

Here is a small sample of some of the amazing photographs we received:

New World; Shanghai, China

New World; Shanghai, China

Customized residential elevator; Sydney, Australia

Customized residential elevator; Sydney, Australia

Custom elevator call station; elevaTOURS Elevator Museum, Roanoke, VA

Custom elevator call station; elevaTOURS Elevator Museum, Roanoke, VA

Inclined Lifts; Corfu, Greece

Inclined Lifts; Corfu, Greece

Futuristic elevator lobby at 1st floor; Hotel Puerta America, Madrid, Spain

Futuristic elevator lobby at 1st floor; Hotel Puerta America, Madrid, Spain

1 WTC with the American flag in the foreground; New York City

1 WTC with the American flag in the foreground; New York City


Unique Work by Transport for London

CityA.M. recently reported on the measures Transport for London takes when maintaining the many heavy-duty escalators and elevators in the London Tube network. As is so often the case in Europe, meticulous work is often required to blend the old with the new. EW encourages its readers to read the article linked to here for insights into how such constant work is performed.


Elevators in the Military

Aircraft carriers have traditionally used high-speed, aluminum hydraulic elevators. They are big and strong enough to lift two 74,000-lb. (33,566-kg) fighter jets. Here is a video of one in action:

However, the U.S. Navy has found hydraulic, pneumatic, steam and mechanically driven systems to be inefficient, inadequate and high maintenance. For that reason, it has pursued the use of Linear Synchronous-Motor (LSM) technology in its shipborne elevators. According to James G. Wieler and Dr. Richard D. Thornton, the LSM system is “faster, safer, environmentally friendly and more efficient, and has a higher lift capacity than existing Navy munitions elevators.” Dubbed the Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWD), you can see it in action on NOVA, featuring Federal Equipment Co. president Doug Ridenour.

We may see AWEs installed on aircraft carriers as early as next year.

“Linear Synchronous Motor Elevators Become a Reality,” ELEVATOR WORLD, May 2012, pp. 140-143 is available in print and digital format from the Elevator World online bookstore.


Chinese shopping mall reveals world’s largest spiral escalator


In March 2015, Mitsubishi Electric manufactured and installed this glamorous spiral escalator at the New World Daimaru Department Store in Shanghai, China.  The shopping mall’s main atrium features two spiral escalators which are composed of 12 curved escalators all together—making Shanghai’s the largest order for such a project yet, according to Gizmodo.  Only 103 such flights of electric stairs currently exist in the world, including one at Caesars Palace Forum Shops in Las Vegas. Pretty amazing!


Tall Buildings in Mexico


Mexico has 16 completed tall buildings, most of them office buildings. They range in height from 492 ft. (150 m) to 738 ft. (225 m), with 31 to 55 floors. The tallest building, Torre Mayor, in Mexico City, has 55 floors above and four floors below ground. It has 29 Schindler elevators, traveling at a maximum speed of 6 mps.

Nine tall buildings are currently under construction, four of which will be taller than Torre Mayor when they are completed over the next three years: Torre Koi in Monterrey and Torre Reforma, Punto Chapultepec and Torre Paradox in Mexico City. Torre Koi will be 906 ft. (276 m) tall with 67 floors when it is completed next year. Schindler is outfitting Torre Reforma with 27 elevators, traveling at a maximum of 5 mps.

But Mexico is not content with the height of Torre Mayor or Torre Koi. Another tall building has been proposed for Monterrey, the Torre Insignia, which will stand at a height of 1,083 ft. (330 m) with 77 floors. It is projected to be completed in 2019. Not to be overshadowed, Mexico City has envisioned the Barrio Capital, also at 1,083 ft. (330 m) with 26 floors for a museum, library or something else.

Visit “The Skyscraper Center: The Global Tall Building Database of the CTBUH” for more information: Also, see the market trends article, “North America and Mexico” by Kaija Wilkinson, published in ELEVATOR WORLD, October 2013, available in digital or print.


$300-Million Robbery Began in Elevator Shaft

Distractify recently reported on a London jewel theft began when “The robbers disabled the elevator on the second floor and climbed down the shaft to the basement where the vault is located.” It also involved drilling through 20-in.-thick concrete to access safety deposit boxes while bypassing a high-security vault door. Helped by local police dismissing Hatton Garden Safe Deposit’s alarm, the crooks got away and are still at large.


Friday Funny

Here is a great clip from stand-up comedian and actor Kevin James (you know, Paul Blart:  Mall Cop and King of Queens) related to elevators.  Have a great weekend!