An Element of Theatricality

In 1854 at the Crystal Palace, Elisha Graves Otis installed a platform on guide rails on which he had himself hoisted into the air before a multitude of onlookers. When the platform had risen to its maximum height, to their horror, he severed its suspension cable. But instead of plunging fifty feet to the ground, the elevator stopped short after only a few inches of travel. Thus, Elisha Otis introduced his newly developed safety catch. Those who had morbidly anticipated a leg-breaking crash, however disappointed, were nevertheless impressed with the effectiveness of the Otis safety.