A look back at a time when a new challenger arrived as competition to the original Otis Escalator

by Dr. Lee Gray, EW Correspondent

Between January 1934 and June 1935, several major American newspapers carried stories announcing three important escalator installations with a combined value of US$1.25 million. It would seem reasonable to assume that these announcements, appearing amid the Great Depression, would have been welcome publicity for Otis. After all, Otis had been a pioneer in the development of moving stairways and, in fact, owned the trademark on the name “escalator,” ensuring that users would associate this transportation system with the company. However, in these instances, Otis was very likely less than pleased with the press coverage. Its unhappiness was because, despite branding success that resulted in all moving stairways consistently referred to as escalators, all three installations involved Westinghouse “Electric Stairways.”