Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Going up! What about down?

Do you remember your first escalator ride or the first for your son or daughter? It would not have been on the first escalator ever built nor one of its early improvement models. More than likely it is one resulting in looks and movement enhanced by modern technology. What do you think people's reaction might have been at the sight and capability of the very first escalator in the 19th century? Can you imagine the emotion upon stepping for the first time onto moving stairs? Would you be surprised at learning it first appeared in an amusement park?

This Day in History: March 15, 1892

The first escalator literally blew people's minds! This was the 1800s and nothing of this type had ever been seen before. Steps/stairs were commonplace, had been for centuries. But, moving stairs? That was unheard of. 

Image credit: Brooklyn Museum
In 1891, Jesse W. Reno envisioned an “Endless Conveyor or Elevator” and patented his idea as the "inclined elevator" on March 15, 1892. In 1896, Reno installed his version of an escalator at the Old Iron Pier in Coney Island, New York as an amusement park ride. Reno's escalator transported riders on a conveyor belt at a 25-degree angle. It was considered a novelty by the 75,000 people who road it during its two-week Coney Island exhibition.
To this...
Early Escalator
The novelty and excitement of riding an escalator was such that in 1897, the first department store in New York City to install one, Frederick Loeser, actually included it in its advertisements, promising customers that they could reach the second floor in a mere 26 seconds!

The longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere,
at the Wheaton station, Washington DC Metro
While these early escalators were very popular, they had one major aspect in common: They only went up! It took the public and businesses almost three decades to accept that the far more frightening down escalators were safe to use.
 Going up and down!
Escalators in a Copenhagen Metro station, Denmark, June 2007

Looks like something out of a space movie, doesn't it?