Elevator World: 1993

Elevator World: 1993
Figure 1: Elevator Escalator Safety Council in September 1991. From left: Founding Chairman and Treasurer Robert Jacobs, Chairman Ricia Sturgeon-Hendrick (EW), Marie McDonald (NAEC), Timothy Duin (NEII) and Floyd (Bud) Rommel (NAESA)

A look at EW’s 40th year

ELEVATOR WORLD began its 40th year with founder William C. Sturgeon recalling the magazine’s beginning: “In early 1953 everything depended upon the response from the field. How many industry members would subscribe? Was a trade publication really desired?”[1] While he readily acknowledged that the “response from the field” had been positive, he also noted that EW’s development had been primarily driven by external forces and the need to continually respond to a rapidly changing industry:

“We (had) anticipated writing about elevators and escalators — but moving walkways, inclined lifts, SCRs, amusement devices, viewing towers, spiral escalators, linear drives, microprocessors, inside-out rotating equipment, helical geared machines, rope brakes, glass cabins, automated horizontal people movers, cart lifts, synthesized speech, television in cars, rack and pinion drives, a ropeway under the sea? Either these were not envisioned or they were only seen in the glass darkly.”[1]

This realization led Sturgeon to wonder if the magazine could and/or should be more forward looking, which gave rise to the idea of “2020 vision.” He challenged readers to imagine the VT industry in the year 2020:

“At this point in time there is no reason why industry members cannot have 2020 vision; images are exchanged through publications, telecommunications and between attendees at trade fairs; conversations are fostered through a myriad of association meetings, workshops, seminars and congresses … Expo-goers walking through an NAEC, CECA, BLA or INTERLIFT trade fair are impacted by a panoply of imagery, color, form and function.”[1]

Ideas for consideration and exploration included: “Multiple cars in the same hoistway? A practical accelerating walkway? Foolproof doorway protection? Economical spiraling escalators? A modern-day paternoster with detachable cabins? Economical magnetic propulsion?”[1] The contents of EW in 1993 reflected Sturgeon’s desire to establish a forward-looking “2020 vision,” and the reality that the magazine — and its founder — were also consistently required to respond to the ever-changing vertical-transportation (VT) landscape.

These parallel aims were, in fact, evident in new columns and features that had debuted over the past 10 years:

  • “Questions and Answers” [August 1984]
  • “Labor and Management” [November 1984]
  • “Concerning the Canadian Industry” [March 1985]
  • “On the More Technical Side” [July 1985]
  • “Horizontal Elevators” [January 1986]
  • “The Past in Retrospective” [September 1986]
  • “Column From the Continent” [December 1986]
  • “The Contractor and His Government” [May 1987]
  • “Preventive Management” [June 1987]
  • “The Multistoried Marketplace” [September 1987]
  • “Books & Videos in Review” [November 1987]
  • “Accessibility Issues” [January 1992]
  • “Quality Assurance, Certification, Testing and Licensing” [February 1991]
  • “Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation Update” [June 1992]
  • “Consultant’s Forum” [February 1993]

A brief examination of a few of these columns illustrates the dynamic tension between response and innovation.

“Questions and Answers,” by George Strakosch, began as a means of enhancing access to the second edition of his pioneering work Vertical Transportation: Elevators and Escalators:

“Although many in the elevator industry proper, and on the fringes, purchase George Strakosch’s book Vertical Transportation, as a reference piece, others, students of the art, wish to use it as a classroom text or a study book they can work their way through, page by page. To the latter, questions and answers will be helpful … Mr. Strakosch has prepared a series of questions covering each chapter of his book. These will be presented in consecutive issues of Elevator World, with answers given the following month.”[2]

In 1993, Strakosch used the same format to “unpack” and enhance access to the revised and expanded edition of The Guide to Elevatoring, published by EW in 1992. 

Sturgeon introduced “On the More Technical Side” to fill what he perceived as a critical “gap” in the magazine’s normative content: “One element has stumped us — the inclusion of highly technical papers.”[3] The steady growth of VT conferences, many of which featured paper presentations, provided a rich source of content that he sought to make available to readers in a user-friendly format: “Accordingly, when a paper arrives, we will publish a summary of the content … along with information concerning the cost of receiving a copy of the original paper.”[3] 

Another gap Sturgeon identified concerned information on people movers, which resulted in the column “Horizontal Elevators” written by Lawrence Fabian. Fabian had majored in mathematics and sociology at Dartmouth and had earned a master’s in city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. He began his career as a city and port planner in Iran, after which he worked for the Raytheon Service Corp. at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, as a transportation planning officer with Cambridge Systematics and, most recently, as “a consultant in the horizontal people-mover field.”[4] In 1983, he founded Transit Pulse, a newsletter devoted to people movers, which provided much of the content for his articles.

Elevator World: 1993 - Figure 2
Figure 2: EW Cover, September 1991

“Accessibility Issues” recognized ongoing work associated with the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well the creation of a new industry group, the Accessibility Equipment Manufacturers Association (AEMA):

“In August 1990 a small group of manufacturers established a steering committee to investigate creation of a focused accessibility industry association. The first formal meeting of AEMA took place October 6, 1991, … founding manufacturing members in attendance being Michael Mahoney of American Stair-Glide, Tom Landgraf of the Cheney Company, Dave Balmer of Concord Elevator, Norm Cooper of Garaventa, Kurt Rosowski of Hiro Lift U.S.A., Inc., Fred Hoch of Inclinator Company of America, and Greg Harmon of National Wheel-O-Vator.” [5]

Topics covered in 1993 included “ADA enforcement,” “Platform lifts” and “NEII’s Standard Braille Car Control Symbols.”

Two other columns also owed their existence to recently founded organizations, and in both instances, EW had played an important role. In 1989, representatives from National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC), National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII), National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities (NAESA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) A17, National Elevator Industry Education Program (NEIEP) and EW met to discuss the creation of an organization intended to promote VT safety. This diverse industry group established the Elevator Escalator Safety Council in January 1991, and the creation of the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation followed in early 1992. These events coincided with the launch of the Safe-T-Rider program, designed to educate children on elevator and escalator safety (Figures 1 and 2). Beginning in June 1992, Ray Lapierre, the Foundation’s first executive director, contributed a monthly column titled “Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation Update.”

The other new industry group was the National Association of Vertical Transportation Professionals (NAVTP), founded in 1991 (now the International Association of Elevator Consultants). As recounted by Sturgeon, at the second NAVTP annual workshop in 1992: “A half-dozen consultants … asked that Elevator World institute a column specifically for their discipline. We agreed to give it a try, bearing out that the perpetuity of such a column depends upon the extent to which specialists in a particular discipline provide information.”[6] Strakosch authored the first two columns; other authors in 1993 included Bob Caporale, Hubert Hayes (Hubert H. Hayes, Inc.), Nick Montesano (DTM, Inc.) and Robert Klein (Elevator Cab Consultants, Inc.).

“Books & Videos in Review” reflected the magazine’s goal of reviewing and highlighting resources that might be of interest to the VT community. Videos reviewed in 1993 included an episode of the 1986 PBS series Pride of Place: Building the American Dream, titled “Proud Towers,” which focused on skyscrapers and elevators (the series had recently been made available on VHS). 

Book reviews included CIBSE Guide D: Transportation Systems in Buildings (Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, 1993) and Defensive Elevatoring by D.A. “Dee” Swerrie (1993). The latter, published by EW, was included in a list of offerings from the magazine’s “bookstore.” Each column featured a list of available publications, which in 1993 included the following titles:

  • 1992-1993 Elevator World Source
  • Educational Package and Reference Library (Three volumes, EW, 1990)
  • Elevators, Frederick Annette “Numbered Limited Edition” (EW, 1989)
  • NEII Vertical Transportation Standards, 7th Edition (1992)
  • The Guide to Elevatoring (EW, 1992)
  • Vertical Transportation, George R. Strakosch (1983, John Wiley & Sons)
  • Electric Elevators, Vols. 1 & 2, Fred Hymans “Numbered Limited Edition” (EW, 1992)
  • NEII Installation Manual
  • Basic Electronics, Sy Levine (Electro-Horizons Publications)

Sturgeon’s well-known interest in VT history was evident in two selections: Hyman’s Electric Elevators (originally published in 1934) and Annette’s Elevators (originally published by McGraw-Hill in 1960). The Educational Package and Reference Library and Guide to Elevatoring were largely produced under the stewardship of Strakosch, who served as EW’s director of Education from 1986 until December 1991 (Figure 3).

Elevator World: 1993 - Figure 3
Figure 3: Advertisement for The Guide to Elevatoring

The 1992-1993 Elevator World Source was the 10th edition of a publication introduced in 1984. Although Sturgeon had enjoyed producing Annual Studies that addressed a wide range of topics, he also recognized a critical unmet need: a VT industry directory. His initial vision was a work that would “list those who supply systems and components to national and international industries, cross-referenced by category, key personnel, addresses, telephone, cable and telex numbers,” with each company providing a brief “review” that “would contribute a bit of flavor to the menu.”[7] By 1993, the Source had matured and its annual updating reflected a changing industry landscape:

“A review of Elevator World’s 10th Source statistics bears out that over the past ten years: company listings have increased from 308 to 901; product and special service categories from 195 to 308; and product and service listings from 1,222 to 3,586. The fax directory, not published the first two years, has gone from 112 the first year to 1,112 (the telex listing was phased out three years ago!), Association listings increased from 58 to 102; (and) consultants (from) 108 to 177 over a six-year span.”[8]

The Source continues to serve as an important resource for the VT industry, as does another popular information resource; however, in the latter case, information was originally provided bi-weekly instead of annually.

In the June 1993 issue, Sturgeon reported that an additional EW-related anniversary had occurred in April. The event was the sending of the 48th issue of a recently developed communication means called the ELEGRAM. In April 1991, the magazine had established ELENET, a communications system designed to transmit ELEGRAMS twice a month to “correspondents, photographers, stringers, and long-time resource people worldwide, providing a glue that held them more closely together. The ELEGRAMS related activities within the Elevator World family of communicators and projects underway or under consideration.”[9] Although it was originally intended as solely an internal “telecommunications network” for people associated with the magazine, “as ELEGRAMS gradually drifted into the hands of others throughout the worldwide industry some expressed interest in joining the network but without the obligation of contributing information.”[9] This resulted in the addition of “executive directors or presidents of the worldwide elevator institutions” to the distribution list.[9] Sturgeon also reported that sending ELEGRAMS, which were sent as FAXs:

“was a rather tedious operation until a computer was geared in with the fax program to handle transmission automatically. This reduced costs, particularly when Technical Coordinator Levan Williams adjusted the computer clock to automatically send ELEGRAMS to different parts of the world at the most economical time slots.”[10]

Of course, the phrase ELEGRAM, a reference to an older means of communication — the telegram – was eventually dropped and, with the advent of the internet and email, these messages became known as the now familiar “ELENET: The Elevator World Weekly Industry Newsletter,” with the 1,000th issue sent on June 21, 2023.

The content of feature articles published in 1993 reflected Sturgeon’s 2020 vision concept and the normative broad range of topics typically found in the magazine. This diversity included articles such as “Elevatoring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mile-High Building” by James Fortune, “Elevator Design for the 21st Century” by Elmer F. Chapman, “Impact of Rope and Sheaves Brakes on Elevator Systems” by Keith Jones, “Super Sky Towers” by Toshikazu Yokogawa and Shin-ichi Biwaki and “Creating a Living Building Transport System” by Caporale. The author of the latter article had joined EW as an associate editor in May:

“(He) was an industry leader who hailed from the Bronx and began his lifelong career in New York City (NYC) in 1964 as a draftsman at the engineering firm of Jaros Baum & Bolles. There, he advanced to the position of associate and was the principal designer, field engineer and inspector on some of the world’s largest vertical-transportation and materials-handling projects, including the original World Trade Center in NYC and the Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago. In 1990, he joined DTM Elevator Consulting and Drafting Services, where he was director of engineering. In 1991, he joined Syska and Hennessy Engineers as vice president and director of the Transport System Group, where he continued to manage numerous elevator and escalator installation and modernization projects throughout the U.S.”[11]

Elevator World: 1993 - Figure 4
Figure 4: Bob Caporale, “Creating a Living Building Transport System,” EW (September 1993)

Caporale’s industry experience and unique personality were evident in the introduction to his article, which was offered as part of the 2020 vision project (Figure 4):

“Imagine for a moment that you are a modern Dr. Frankenstein. Rather than a human being, however, you set out to create a building. You assemble the components. You mold the structural supporting skeleton. You carefully wrap the architectural skin around it. Time for the ‘building systems.’ In goes the electrical nervous system; then the HVAC respiratory system, the electronic brain and the sanitary evacuation system. You turn on the switch and the building is ready. But your creation is not a commercial success. Why? You didn’t include an adequate circulatory system – elevators, escalators and material handlers.”[12]

This marked the beginning of Caporale’s 20-year career with EW, an event that also helped set the stage for the next decade in the magazine’s history.


[1] William C. Sturgeon, “Speaking of Issues: 2020 Vision,” Elevator World (January 1993).

[2] William C. Sturgeon, Introduction to the first “Questions and Answers” column, Elevator World (August 1984).

[3] William C. Sturgeon, Introduction to the first “On the More Technical Side” column, Elevator World (July 1985).

[4] Lawrence Fabian, “Horizontal Elevators,” author introduction, Elevator World (November 1986).

[5] “Accessibility Issues – New Association Launched,” Elevator World (January 1992).

[6] William C. Sturgeon, Introduction to the first “Consultants Forum” column, Elevator World (February 1993).

[7] Speaking of Issues: The Source – A new Industry Tool, (October 1984).

[8] “Monitor,” Elevator World (November 1993).

[9] “Speaking of Issues: A Frame of Reference – Time” (March 1993).

[10] William C. Sturgeon, “Contact – “ELENET-ELEGRAMS-ELENETTERS” Elevator World (June 1993).

[11] “In Memoriam: Robert S. Caporale,” ELENET 626 (September 14, 2016).

[12] Bob Caporale, “Creating a Living Building Transport System,” Elevator World (September 1993).

Dr. Lee Gray, professor of Architectural History and senior associate dean of the College of Arts + Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has written more than 200 monthly articles on the history of vertical transportation (VT) for ELEVATOR WORLD since 2003. He is also the author of From Ascending Rooms to Express Elevators: A History of the Passenger Elevator in the 19th Century. He also serves as curator of theelevatormuseum.org, created by Elevator World, Inc.

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