Who Says VT Can’t Bring a Smile to Your Face?

Homer Simpson of “The Simpsons” fame is known to love doughnuts. As website designplayground.it found, you never know where Homer will pop up to add a chuckle to your day.

Vertical transportation (VT) is all about traveling through a building in a safe, efficient way. We all know that. Nothing exciting about it, is there? But, it doesn’t have to be boring. Website designplayground.it found plenty of examples of creative advertising or artwork incorporated into elevators and escalators. After looking through these, maybe your next elevator ride will inspire you to tap your inner artist.

Cash Crunch Idles Escalators

A sign directs people away from an escalator at UN headquarters in NYC. People instead must use stairs or an elevator; photo via IPS.

The United Nations in October turned to austerity measures, including the shutdown of the escalators in its NYC headquarters building, after some of its annual member-country contributions — including from the U.S. — became past-due, leaving the intergovernmental organization strapped for cash. According to the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, some of these measures have put a serious crimp in the U.N.’s mission, such as cutbacks on translation and interpretation services, travel and operating hours. Officials have acknowledged, however, that the escalator shutdowns are meant more as a symbolic gesture to draw attention to the missed payments, rather than a substantial money-saving move. Complaints by diplomats resulted in restoration of escalator service to floors used by envoys, but a moving staircase used mostly by U.N. staffers and journalists remains shut down. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. spends about US$14,000 to operate the escalator, and repeated questions from reporters have led to the suggestion of using the recently installed Gandhi Solar Park — a US$1-million, 50-kW solar array that was a gift from the Government of India — to power the idled unit. “I’m barely a spokesman,” Dujarric said in response to the suggestion. “I don’t think I’m an electrical engineer, but I will see where that electricity goes.” A U.N. official said the austerity measures are only temporary, and that full services would be restored once cash-flow problems are resolved.

Germs? What Germs?

The Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, wants to find the subject of this nearly 50-year-old photograph taken by Max Oettli; image via nzherald.co.nz.

An exhibition of historical photographs in New Zealand has launched something of a sleuthing effort to identify the subject of one of the show’s many compelling images: a young girl, apparently seeing an escalator for the first time, captured on film licking the moving stairs’ handrail. The 1970 photo was taken by noted photographer Max Oettli, a Swiss-born longtime resident of New Zealand whose iconic images are part of a show called “The New Photography — Life in the ’60s and ’70s” on display through October 13 at Wellington’s Te Papa Museum. Athol McCredie, a curator at the museum, told the NZ Herald that Oettli captured the image inside a department store that had new escalators. “To a child who had never seen an escalator before, this belt (handrail) might have looked like a giant licorice strap,” McCreadie said.

Then again, who knows what goes through the mind of child? If she comes forward, maybe we’ll find out.