A Working Museum Piece

David Filippe, head operator of the manual elevator at the historic Oregon Bank Building, opens the lift’s collapsible gate earlier this month; Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small, the Herald and News.

Technology, like time itself, marches on, and this truth is no more evident than it is in the vertical-transportation industry. Over the course of recent years we’ve seen improvements that have allowed super-high-speed elevators, destination control and (soon) cars that can move without ropes, allowing them to travel in non-traditional directions. And, who’d have thought just a few years ago that it would be possible to summon an elevator with the phone in your pocket? Yet, for all the conveniences of the modern world, we can still celebrate the old know-how that enabled greater building heights back in the day. One place you can appreciate vintage elevator technology firsthand is the historic Oregon Bank Building in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Here, visitors can be taken for rides up and down the six-story office building, courtesy of a manual lift complete with uniformed operator. A recent feature article by the Herald and News notes that the elevator is nearly 87 years old but continues to operate flawlessly. The lift has, of course, undergone upgrades to meet current safety standards, but head operator David Filippe told the Herald and News that the building’s owners have done their best to retain its authenticity. Parts that had to be removed have even been put on display in a glass case in the building’s main lobby. Seems like a fitting tribute to the tech that helped get us where we are today.

Test Your Knowledge of NYC Elevators

OK – you’ve been to New York City (NYC). You’ve felt the energy of Times Square, tasted the best pizza in the world and stood awestruck at the endless landscape of towering buildings. You’ve seen the sights – seen them all, in fact. But, are you ready to test your knowledge? That’s what the editors of The New Yorker wanted to know in a recent issue of the popular magazine. NYC has so many iconic buildings, from the Chrysler to the Empire State; it only stands to reason that these landmarks would have iconic elevators. So, in a feature called “Sketchbook,” the magazine presented drawings of the elevator doors at nine of the city’s best-loved buildings, with a challenge for readers to match the doors with the building. If you think you know The Big Apple, try your hand at the online version of the quiz.

What the Inspector Found

Apache County, Arizona, Court Administrator Sueanne Czarnyszka stands next to the door to an elevator mechanical room in the courthouse basement where historic documents were discovered. The note on the door reminds everyone that storage is not allowed in the room; photo by Trudy Balcom/The Independent.

A routine elevator inspection isn’t always routine — problems that need correcting may be uncovered, and, in a worst-case scenario, the elevator may be shut down for safety reasons. But, a recent inspection at the Apache County Courthouse in St. Johns, Arizona, was unusual for an entirely different reason: it turned up a treasure trove of old papers that document the county’s early history, the White Mountain Independent reports. While conducting his check of

This colorful 1918 plat map of Apache County includes the handwritten names of property owners and a legend of the county’s original wagon trails. The map was in use until 1937; photo by Trudy Balcom/The Independent.

an elevator at the courthouse, the inspector entered a mechanical room in which boxes had been inappropriately stored. He told Court Administrator Sueanne Czarnyszka that the boxes would have to be removed, so she had the boxes taken up to her office and began inspecting their contents. What she found was amazing: For one, a 1918 color plat map of the county that had handwritten names of landowners; but, there was also a variety of legal documents, including court proceedings and attorney records. Among notable items were documents relating to landowner and pardoned criminal Phin Clanton, whose brother, Billy, was killed in the famous “Gunfight at O.K. Corral.” Phin was later suspected in an apparent revenge ambush of lawman Virgil Earp, though he was never charged.

The priceless documents are to be sent to the state archives, but they provide a valuable reminder: you never know what will turn up during a routine elevator inspection.