Wednesday, April 16, 2008


This is not the blog from Eeriecon, not quite yet. This is about elevators. The current issue of THE NEW YORKER includes a fascinating article about those conveyances; I wish I had read it before I sold my story "Elevator" to Jonathan Strahan for ECLIPSE 2. But since Eeriecon, like all cons, will feature overcrowded elevators jammed with barbarians and space soldiers, these tidbits seem appropriate. Reassuring, even:

  • The only documented free-fall of an elevator (not counting 9/11) occurred in 1945, when a B-25 bomber flying in fog hit the 79th floor of the Empire State building. The elevator plunged 75 floors with one person, the attendant, aboard. The car landed on several thousand feet of cable, a hydraulic buffer, and a pillow of air pressure compressed by the speeding car in the shaft. The woman survived.
  • Twenty-six people die in elevators in the USA every year, nearly all of them installers or maintnance workers.
  • New York City has 58,000 elevators, which make 11 billion trips each year.
  • The Otis Elevator Company claims that, world-wide, its elevators carry the equivalent of the world's population every five days.
  • In most elevators built since the early 1990's, the door-close button does not work. It's there to provide passengers with the illusion of control.
  • Current technology cannot provide a hoist rope longer than 1700 feet; longer and it becomes too heavy for safety. That's why in very tall buildings you must switch elevators to go to the higher floors.

The hotel for Eeriecon is only four or five stories; I tend to take the stairs.


Luke said...

Have you read Thomas Disch's "Descending?"

Oh wait, that's an escalator.

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