Nonetheless, elevators are extraordinarily safe–far safer than cars, to
say nothing of other forms of vertical transport. Escalators are scary.
Statistics are elusive…but the claim, routinely advanced by elevator professionals,
that elevators are ten times as safe as escalators seems to arise from
fifteen-year-old numbers showing that, while there are roughly twenty
times as many elevators as escalators, there are only a third more
elevator accidents. An average of twenty-six people die in (or on)
elevators in the United States every year, but most of these are people
being paid to work on them. That may still seem like a lot, until you
consider that that many die in automobiles every five hours. In New
York City, home to fifty-eight thousand elevators, there are eleven
billion elevator trips a year–thirty million every day–and yet hardly
more than two dozen passengers get banged up enough to seek medical
attention. The Otis Elevator Company, the world’s oldest and biggest
elevator manufacturer, claims that its products carry the equivalent of
the world’s population every five days.
And I like this passage:
Two things make tall buildings possible: the steel frame and the safety
elevator. The elevator, underrated and overlooked, is to the city what
paper is to reading and gunpowder is to war. Without the elevator,
there would be no verticality, no density, and, without these, none of
the urban advantages of energy efficiency, economic productivity, and
Here is the article, interesting throughout.