Lift Books 1890-1940

Lee E. Gray

Thursday 25th September 2014

Most histories of vertical transportation typically examine engineers and inventors, machines and manufacturers, and the architectural and cultural impact of lifts and escalators. However, a critical aspect of this unique history, which has been rarely examined or even considered as having its own “history,” is the technical literature of vertical transportation. In fact, this material has a complex history in that it is composed of four distinct bodies of literature: articles published in technical journals, papers published in the proceedings of technical societies, manufacturers’ catalogs and commercial publications, and books. The latter category is the subject of this paper. This paper will provide a survey of books on lifts published in the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Spain from 1890 to 1940. The examination of this international collection of material will reveal a remarkable global awareness of vertical transportation technology during this period. The content of each book will be assessed with regard to its primary topic or focus, organization, illustrations (type, source, etc.), and connections/relationships to other lift books. This paper will provide a critical framework for understanding and assessing this body of material, which may serve in the future as a model for examining other categories of lift literature: articles, papers, and manufacturers’ publications

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