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Dr. Lee Gray

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.

1950s Innovations in Elevator Cab Design

1950s Innovations in Elevator Cab Design

By Dr. Lee Gray | April 1, 2021
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This History article examines cabin-access innovations that arose from the development of operator-less elevators in the early 1950s.

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Chicago Elevator First

Chicago Elevator First

By Dr. Lee Gray | March 1, 2021
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This History article examines the city’s important role in 19th-century elevator progression.

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Elevator Accidents 1870-1920: Causes

By Dr. Lee Gray | March 1, 2019
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The second of two articles examining elevator safety in the U.S. from 1870 to 1920 While the first article in this series (ELEVATOR WORLD, February 2019) focused on reporting and statistics, this article addresses the primary causes of accidents during this period. In addition to gathering accident statistics, several state and municipal agencies referenced in…

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Elevator Accidents 1870-1920 Statistics

By Dr. Lee Gray | February 1, 2019
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The first of this two-part History series examines early elevator datasets. This is the first of two articles that will examine elevator safety in the U.S. between 1870 and 1920. This month’s focus is on accident reporting and statistics; next month’s article will address accident causes. The impetus for this investigation was the recent acquisition…

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2018-CTBUH-International-Conference

2018 CTBUH International Conference

By Dr. Lee Gray | February 1, 2019
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Dubai and Abu Dhabi host well-attended event on “Polycentric Cities: The Future of Vertical Urbanism” with strong VT industry support. The 2018 International Conference of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) took place on October 20-25, 2018, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The conference was organized into four distinct events. The first…

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The-Invalid-Lift-Part-Two-Figure-7

The Invalid Lift, Part Two

By Dr. Lee Gray | January 1, 2019
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The conclusion of a series on early elevators for handicapped persons begins with the early 20th century. The invalid lift, a hand-powered elevator system introduced in the mid 1800s, was designed for use in residential settings by persons with disabilities (ELEVATOR WORLD, December 2018). By the end of the 19th century, numerous elevator and dumbwaiter…

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The-Invalid-Lift-Part-One-Figure-1

The Invalid Lift, Part One

By Dr. Lee Gray | December 1, 2018
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Early elevators for handicapped persons emerged in 1869. A primary focus of the vertical-transportation industry is the efficient movement of able- bodied persons. Of course, this (perhaps logical) focus does not mean that the needs of persons with disabilities are ignored. These important concerns are fully integrated into modern elevator design. However, this seamless integration…

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The-Electromagnetic-Elevator-Figure-4

The Electromagnetic Elevator

By Dr. Lee Gray | November 1, 2018
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Two inventors competed to produce a precursor of today’s linear elevator concept at the end of the 19th century. In the closing decade of the 19th century, two American engineers independently explored using electromagnets as a means of powering elevators. These efforts, when considered in the context of the development of the linear- induction motor,…

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The Royal Institution’s Micro Leveling Elevator-Figure-1

The Royal Institution’s Micro Leveling Elevator

By Dr. Lee Gray | October 1, 2018
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A rare Otis Construction Handbook sheds light on the story of a unique, newly restored elevator in London’s Faraday Museum. London is filled with architectural, cultural, historical and technological treasures. One such treasure is in the Mayfair neighborhood at 21 Albemarle Street. There, visitors will find the Royal Institution of Great Britain, more commonly known…

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The-Ritter-Controller-and-Door-Locking-Device-for-Elevators-Figure-1

The Ritter Controller and Door Locking Device for Elevators

By Dr. Lee Gray | September 1, 2018
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The story of an amateur’s limited success in the development, manufacture and selling of elevator components in the early 20th century Nineteenth and early 20th-century patent records include hundreds of designs for elevator door safeties. These designs include both overly simplistic and incredibly complex solutions. Many of these schemes shared a common characteristic: they existed…

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