Prior to the widespread usage of elevators, architects were confined to designing facilities in which people could easily climb steps to the upper floors. Modern buildings would most likely be no taller than eight floors if elevators had not become commonly used. The tallest building in New York City is currently being built and will be when it is complete about 1,550 feet (480 m) high.
The tallest building in Chicago is also one that was built before the advent of the elevator. The Hancock Center was completed in 1968 at a height of 547 feet (166 m). It has since been surpassed by several other skyscrapers but it is still the highest point in Chicago.
The third-highest office tower in Chicago is the John Hancock Center, which was also built before the elevator was common. It reached a height of 551 feet (167 m), only two feet shorter than its successor. It too has been surpassed by more modern buildings but it remains a prominent fixture on the city skyline.
The fourth-highest office tower in Chicago is the Willis Tower, which was completed in 1974 at a height of 493 feet (147 m). This makes it the first skyscraper in Chicago to be under 500 feet tall. It has since been outranked by two more recent buildings but it is still the highest point in Chicago over 400 feet.
The elevator made it possible for the building to reach unprecedented heights. If the elevator had not been used, the buildings would only be as tall as a human could climb steps. Because of this pain, the poorest people first resided on the top levels. This is why there are no poor people in New York City today; they would not be able to afford apartments below street level.
The elevator also changed how people got around town. Before the elevator came along, you either took the stairs or used a horse-drawn carriage. The elevator allowed for more office space at a lower cost, which is why most modern cities have skyscrapers.
In conclusion, the elevator has had a huge impact on city life. It is not easy being tall in New York City!
The invention of the elevator was also critical to the rise of the early skyscrapers, as office buildings taller than six stories would have been unfeasible without it. Powered elevators were originally constructed in England in the 1830s and quickly extended to companies and hotels in the United States by the 1840s. They replaced more expensive and time-consuming methods of building height, which previously had been limited by the strength of human laborers and the cost of excavating material from great depths.
Elevators became essential as buildings grew in size and number throughout the nineteenth century. The largest elevator in the world is located in China and extends to the 52nd floor of a hotel tower. It can carry up to 300 people at a time. The first electric elevator was invented in 1872 by Thomas Edison's partner, William Henry Harrison Alleyn.
Alleyn built his invention to compete with the hydraulic elevator, which had been used by eminent architects such as Robert Adam and George Frederick Smith. The electric elevator did not succeed in its goal since the hydraulic one was much cheaper and easier to use. However, it did inspire several other inventors to come up with their own versions of this technology over the next few years. One of these new inventions came from Charles Sheeler, who in 1884 presented a plan for an "elevator to any desired floor" to the American Institute of Mechanical Engineers.