This is one of those books that brings to light an important object that nobody really thinks about. In this case, the object was the elevator.
I hadn’t previously thought much about elevators, I usually take the stairs and only ride the elevator when someone I’m with doesn’t want to walk up stairs. Maybe now, after reading this book, I’ll be more inclined to take the elevator.
This book starts at the beginning of time. Ok maybe not the beginning of time, but certainly the beginning of the time of the elevator. The book starts out by discussing what life was like before the introduction of the elevator- chaotic layouts, shorter buildings, and a focus on a central staircase (in large/important buildings). The book then examines how the elevator came to be placed in buildings and what had to be done to convince people that the elevator was safe and a good thing to ride in. Once all that information has been sifted through the author just talks about the architectural importance of elevators and more history of how they came to be.
Before reading this book I hadn’t realized just how important of a role the elevator played in architecture. With the introduction of the elevator, buildings become more centralized and instead of being chaotic they revolved around a central structure on each floor. Who knew that the elevator not only revolutionized how tall we could build our buildings (with the help of steel) but also revolutionized the entire way buildings were laid out.
The subject matter was interesting but I felt that the writing lacked a little something. I don’t really like it when authors refer to themselves in the book, or refer to what they’re going to talk about, and this author did that numerous times throughout the book. I also felt that the topics jumped around a little too much for my taste. One chapter it’s way back in the day, when buildings were only one or two stories at most, and suddenly it’s the 1900’s and elevators are commonplace. I found myself having a hard time keeping track of what time period the author was referring to, so this book could definitely benefit from some clearer organization.
On the whole, I thought this book was a decent read. If you have an interest in architecture this would definitely be an interesting book to read, or if you have an interest in the histories of everyday objects. For just the general reader, I would recommend reading the beginning of this book, but you only have to read about halfway through to get all of the information you could need.
I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.