Oldest Elevators in the World

Ascending through Time: Exploring the 8 Oldest Elevators in the World

Elevators, the vertical marvels of engineering, have revolutionized how we navigate tall structures and transformed urban landscapes. Join us on a journey through time as we unveil the seven oldest elevators that have stood as icons of progress, enabling us to ascend to new heights. Each elevator carries its own unique story, reflecting the ingenuity and innovation of its time.

8. Old Paternoster Elevator at Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

Year: 1925
Country: France
Still in us: Yes

The vintage Paternoster elevator located at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris has been in operation since 1925. This unique elevator system features a continuous loop of open compartments that allow passengers to step on and off the moving platform. It provides a charming and nostalgic experience.

Did You Know?

The Paternoster elevator offers a distinctive experience as riders seamlessly enter and exit the continuously moving compartments, providing a sense of novelty and efficiency. It remains a popular attraction at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.

7. Singer Building Elevators

Year: 1908
Country: USA
Still in us: No

Singer Building ElevatorsPhoto Source

The Singer Building in New York City housed groundbreaking elevators that were installed in 1908. These elevators, developed by Otis Elevator Company, showcased the latest advancements in vertical transportation technology.

Did You Know?

The Singer Building elevators were known for their impressive speed and luxurious interiors, catering to the needs of its high-profile occupants. Although the building was demolished in 1968, the elevators played a significant role in elevating the standards of vertical transportation.

6. Hammetschwand Elevator

Year: 1905
Country: Switzerland
Still in us: Yes

Hammetschwand ElevatorPhoto Source

Perched on the Bürgenstock plateau in Switzerland, the Hammetschwand Elevator has been in operation since 1905. This outdoor elevator provides visitors with a thrilling vertical ascent, offering breathtaking views of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding mountains.

Did You Know?

The Hammetschwand Elevator holds the distinction of being the highest outdoor elevator in Europe, reaching an impressive height of 153 meters (502 feet). It continues to be a popular attraction, providing an unforgettable experience for visitors.

5. Macy’s Wooden Escalators

Year: 1902
Country: USA
Still in us: No

Macy's Wooden EscalatorsPhoto Source

Macy’s department store in New York City once featured wooden escalators that were installed in 1902. These innovative escalators, constructed from wood, transported shoppers between different levels of the store. While no longer in use, they represented a significant advancement in escalator technology.

Did You Know?

Over time, the wooden escalators were replaced with modern metal escalators due to safety concerns and the need for larger capacity. The original wooden escalators, although retired, stand as a testament to the evolution of vertical transportation.

4. Tower Bridge Elevators

Year: 1894
Country: England, UK
Still in us: Yes

Tower Bridge ElevatorsPhoto Source

The Tower Bridge Elevators, installed in 1894, have been providing access to the high-level walkways of the famous Tower Bridge in London. These elevators offer breathtaking panoramic views of the cityscape and the River Thames. Visitors can ascend to the top and enjoy a remarkable vantage point of the bustling city below.

Did You Know?

Initially powered by steam, the Tower Bridge Elevators were later modernized for electrical operation, improving efficiency and reliability. Today, they continue to transport visitors to the bridge’s elevated walkways.

3. Eiffel Tower Hydraulic Elevators

Year: 1889
Country: France
Still in us: Yes

Eiffel Tower Hydraulic ElevatorsPhoto Source

The Eiffel Tower Hydraulic Elevators, installed in 1889, have been transporting visitors to the dizzying heights of the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris. These elevators were designed by the renowned Otis Elevator Company, a pioneer in the industry. They provide a convenient means of reaching the tower’s observation decks, offering unparalleled views of the city.

Did You Know?

Initially operated using a hydraulic system, the Eiffel Tower elevators were later converted to electric operation, ensuring smoother and faster rides for visitors. Today, they continue to carry millions of people to the top of the Eiffel Tower each year.

2. Equitable Life Building Elevators

Year: 1870
Country: USA
Still in us: No

Equitable Life Building ElevatorsPhoto Source

The Equitable Life Building in New York City was the site of the first passenger elevators. Installed in 1870, these steam-powered elevators revolutionized vertical transportation in tall office buildings. Although no longer in use, they played a pivotal role in shaping the future of elevator technology.

Did You Know?

The Equitable Life Building elevators were manually operated by elevator operators who controlled the speed and direction, ensuring safe and efficient transportation. These early elevators laid the foundation for the modern elevator systems we have today.

1. Original Otis Elevator

Year: 1857
Country: USA
Still in us: No

Original Otis ElevatorPhoto Source

The original Otis Elevator, installed in 1857, marked a significant milestone in the history of vertical transportation. This steam-powered elevator, developed by Elisha Otis, was showcased at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York City.

Did You Know?

The demonstration of the original Otis Elevator at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1854 played a pivotal role in instilling confidence in the safety and reliability of elevators. This breakthrough led to the widespread adoption of elevators in tall buildings and transformed urban landscapes.


These eight oldest elevators take us back in time, showcasing the evolution of vertical transportation. Each elevator has left an indelible mark on the architectural and engineering landscapes, from the Tower Bridge Elevators in London to the historic Macy’s Wooden Escalators in New York City. 

While some continue to operate, others have become cherished relics of the past. Together, they remind us of the human ingenuity and vision that have shaped how we reach new heights.

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