Elisha Otis

Elisha Graves Otis was the man who invented elevator breaks. He was born on a farm near a city called Halifax, Vermont. He was the youngest of 6 children. His parents’ names were Steepen and Phoebe Otis. When he was little, his health was very poor. He went to school in his home town of Halifax, where he was born. His education ended at the age of 19 when he moved away from home. When he left his home town, he moved to Tory, New York. He lived there for 5 years. For those 5 years, he carried on with building operations.

He got sick again and was forced to stop doing strenuous work. So he got another job hauling goods back and forth from Tory to Brattleboro, Vermont. After 3 years of hauling goods from Tory to Brattleboro he saved up a little capital, and bought land on Green River, Vermont, where he built a house and a gristsmill. The gritsmill was not successful, so in turn he built a sawmill. Once his sawmill was built then he started building carriages & wagons. He stayed in the business until about 1845. In 1845, he fell ill again so his family moved to Albany, New York.

When they got to Albany, he got a job as a master in a Bedford manufacturing company where he worked for 3 years. While he was working there he was able to save up some money to buy a little machine shop, where he only did small odd jobs. He was forced to sell his shop in 1851. One of his earlier employers was building a Bedford factory in a city called Bergen. So he moved his family to Bergen in 1851. When he got there he was given a job as the head machinist. In 1852 his employers started to build a Bedford factory in Yonkers.

So he moved his family again to Yonkers, New York. There he was put in command of installing the machinery. This was where he installed his first safety elevator invention into the new building. After the installation was a success he began to get more orders for elevators. People say that was the beginning of the elevator business. The reason for his invention of elevator breaks was because he was asked to help make the elevator safer for the New Bedford building in Yonkers, New York. So in 1854 at the States Fair he showcased his new elevator.

He was the one to get on it and ride it up to the top, and had his assistant cut the ropes. His breaks turned out to be a success. The elevator was powered by a steam engine. The engine was made up of only rope that was wrapped around a steam powered steel drum. The breaks were two wagon springs, which forced two latches into ratchets on the side of the shaft. Elisha Otis’s newly improved elevator allowed expansion to go up instead of out. We would not even have dreamed of sky scrapers if wasn’t for Elisha Otis.