Read Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator by Andreas Bernard Online


Before skyscrapers forever transformed the landscape of the modern metropolis, the conveyance that made them possible had to be created. Invented in New York in the 1850s, the elevator became an urban fact of life on both sides of the Atlantic by the early twentieth century. While it may at first glance seem a modest innovation, it had wide-ranging effects, from fundamentaBefore skyscrapers forever transformed the landscape of the modern metropolis, the conveyance that made them possible had to be created. Invented in New York in the 1850s, the elevator became an urban fact of life on both sides of the Atlantic by the early twentieth century. While it may at first glance seem a modest innovation, it had wide-ranging effects, from fundamentally restructuring building design to reinforcing social class hierarchies by moving luxury apartments to upper levels, previously the domain of the lower classes. The cramped elevator cabin itself served as a reflection of life in modern growing cities, as a space of simultaneous intimacy and anonymity, constantly in motion. In this elegant and fascinating book, Andreas Bernard explores how the appearance of this new element changed notions of verticality and urban space. Transforming such landmarks as the Waldorf-Astoria and Ritz Tower in New York, he traces how the elevator quickly took hold in large American cities while gaining much slower acceptance in European cities like Paris and Berlin. Combining technological and architectural history with the literary and cinematic, Bernard opens up new ways of looking at the elevator--as a secular confessional when stalled between floors or as a recurring space in which couples fall in love. Rising upwards through modernity, Lifted takes the reader on a compelling ride through the history of the elevator. Andreas Bernard is editor of Suddeutsche Zeitung, Germany's largest daily newspaper. He received his Ph.D. in Cultural Sciences from the Bauhaus University Weimar, and teaches cultural studies in Berlin and Lucerne, Switzerland.“The elevator, which today seems so boring, was once a vehicle of change of compelling power. Whoever reads this book will view the world’s elevators with different eyes.”-Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung...

Title : Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780814787168
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 309 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator Reviews

  • Denise Morse
    2019-01-16 05:53

    This book had its ups and downs. :)Now that the joke is out of the way. This is a very interesting book not just about the invention of the elevator but the profound unseen impact that it had on society, etiquette, health and culture. The book takes you through the shift from class changes of the upper and lower floors of building, the changing role of public health in buildings, and the differences between American and European (specifically German) society and adoption. The book brought up questions I hadnt thought of, such as elevator etiquette in the beginning (who should get on first? should you take your hat off?) and also the role of the elevator operators. Also interesting was the discussion about mental health and the rise of agoraphobia and claustrophobia during the time of the increased use of the elevator. The last part could have been longer to discuss modern usage of the elevator and pop culture references but it highlighted some of the most iconic elevator scenes including You've Got Mail and the numerous commercials. Lastly, the door close button is useless. Stop trying to use it.

  • A. Bowdoin Van Riper
    2019-01-20 04:06

    The world we live in has been shaped, in deep and profound ways, by technologies we barely think about. Lifted is a fascinating, maddening, idiosyncratic exploration of one of them: a book about elevators as a force that transformed cities and the experience of living and working in them. Elevators forced architects to make the internal arrangement of buildings more uniform and more systematically organized. They ushered in the era of standardized floor plans, standard-height floors, and consecutive floor numbering. They made possible the roof garden, did away with the stuffy attic garret, democratized access to the street by making a trip to the 14th floor no more work than a trip to the 4th. They turned the upper floors of tall buildings into desirable, expensive spaces for the first time, creating a world in which social class mapped—in a linear, straightforward way—onto the structure of the building. Andreas Bernard traces these changes as they unfolded in (mostly) Berlin, New York, and Paris between the 1850s and about 1900. He focuses on what we would now think of as mid-rise office and residential buildings, and winds up his narrative just before the beginning of the skyscraper era. Three of the four chapters of Lifted dig deeply into these neglected aspects of elevator history, and will likely fascinate readers interested in architecture, urban planning, and the history of nineteenth-century city life. The fourth, shortest chapter considers the evolution of elevator controls, the gradual de-skilling of the elevator operator’s job, and the psychology of the push-button—a gift for those intrigued by technology, labor, and their intersection, but slightly out of place in the larger narrative. Bernard writes about all these issues with verve, and analyzes them in sophisticated but accessible ways. What is missing from Lifted is a clear chronological framework into which readers can fit this information. Bernard gives little sense of the evolution of the elevator over time, its spread through the world’s cities, and its progress from luxury add-on to basic infrastructure. The chapters, because of their thematic organization, zigzag back and forth across the same material multiple times, from multiple perspectives. Cutting the story off at the beginning of the skyscraper age—a decision that, like the thematic chapters, serves the story that Bernard wants to tell—further diminishes the book’s appeal to broader audiences, for whom the marriage of elevator and skyscraper is the most familiar part of the story.Lifted is not a linear, narrative-driven book about the history of technology in the vein of Henry Petroski (The Pencil) or Tom Standage The Victorian Internet). It is, however, a thoughtful, well-written, eye-opening book, and—for anyone interested in the emergence of the modern city—an essential one.

  • Donna Davis
    2019-01-11 07:12

    Lifted: A Cultural History of the ElevatorThe United States was the first country to make domestic use of the elevator. Its immense tenement apartments could only be so tall if people were going to take the stairs. Initially, elevators were used mostly to haul heavy freight up and down.Mr. Otis changed all that. The real inventor was Otis Tufts, but history is generally written by the victors, and so the EG Otis Elevator Company gets credit for the passenger elevator with the safety mechanism that was demonstrated at the Crystal Palace in New York City in 1854. As the crowd that had been beckoned watched breathlessly, the elevator, centrally located and visible on all sides, had its cable cut. Everyone gasped, of course, and anticipated its immediate crash. However, the safety mechanism engaged and so instead of a deadly rushing descent, the elevator simply halted.What was everyone so afraid of to begin with? Well, to this reviewer, it seems natural that until the elevator had become a normal part of city living, people would be afraid of it. I don’t care for heights much, myself; my mother, who didn’t fear heights, was claustrophobic, and always let out a small gasp of relief when we exited a crowded elevator together.There’s more to it, though. Elevators, Bernard says, had become related in the public eye to mines. A lot of people work in mines, but a lot of people get dead there, too. I am not sure whether the public’s fear of elevator shafts that descended to mines was a reflection on elevators so much as on the mining companies, but that’s another story, another book. In any case, people were afraid of passenger elevators until the widely publicized safety mechanism had been demonstrated.Elevator history: go figure. Why was I so determined to read this particular nugget? I entered the First Reads contest for it three times on this site and never got the book, but I was still curious, and was pleased when Net Galley came through for me. You see, for most of the ten years of my first marriage, my spouse worked for the Schindler Haughton Elevator Company. Every time he and I boarded an escalator or elevator together, he would look for the name stamp to see whether he might, by chance, have built this particular machine. He gave a sigh of disappointment when he saw the name “Otis”, which was on about 60% of the elevators in the Midwestern USA in the 1980’s. Haughton must have been absorbed by Otis, or else Otis simply chose to disregard the competition. I had hoped for a brief synopsis of how the various companies merged, but the history reads as if Otis was virtually the only company to ever exist in the USA, which really isn’t the case.If you have a strong interest in architecture or the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the way buildings and cities have come into being, you may enjoy this book. For me, it ended very much like the elevator in the Crystal Palace; it went along for awhile…and then it stopped.

  • Jennifer Boyce
    2018-12-25 06:10 is one of those books that brings to light an important object that nobody really thinks about. In this case, the object was the elevator.I hadn't previously thought much about elevators, I usually take the stairs and only ride the elevator when someone I'm with doesn't want to walk up stairs. Maybe now, after reading this book, I'll be more inclined to take the elevator.This book starts at the beginning of time. Ok maybe not the beginning of time, but certainly the beginning of the time of the elevator. The book starts out by discussing what life was like before the introduction of the elevator- chaotic layouts, shorter buildings, and a focus on a central staircase (in large/important buildings). The book then examines how the elevator came to be placed in buildings and what had to be done to convince people that the elevator was safe and a good thing to ride in. Once all that information has been sifted through the author just talks about the architectural importance of elevators and more history of how they came to be. Before reading this book I hadn't realized just how important of a role the elevator played in architecture. With the introduction of the elevator, buildings become more centralized and instead of being chaotic they revolved around a central structure on each floor. Who knew that the elevator not only revolutionized how tall we could build our buildings (with the help of steel) but also revolutionized the entire way buildings were laid out.The subject matter was interesting but I felt that the writing lacked a little something. I don't really like it when authors refer to themselves in the book, or refer to what they're going to talk about, and this author did that numerous times throughout the book. I also felt that the topics jumped around a little too much for my taste. One chapter it's way back in the day, when buildings were only one or two stories at most, and suddenly it's the 1900's and elevators are commonplace. I found myself having a hard time keeping track of what time period the author was referring to, so this book could definitely benefit from some clearer organization.On the whole, I thought this book was a decent read. If you have an interest in architecture this would definitely be an interesting book to read, or if you have an interest in the histories of everyday objects. For just the general reader, I would recommend reading the beginning of this book, but you only have to read about halfway through to get all of the information you could need.I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

  • Beth
    2018-12-24 04:57

    (This review was originally posted to my blog at: Bernard’s Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator (published February 14, 2014) is a fascinating look at the history of the elevator and how it transformed how Westerners conceived of vertical space, much like the railroad transformed horizontal space during the nineteenth century. The book begins with a discussion of how the story of Elisha Graves Otis’ demonstration of the safety catch on an elevator in 1854 became the starting point for the architectural history of the device, although Bernard points out that not only had freight elevators been around for years, it was the Otis Company’s domination of the elevator market that allowed them to write their own history, so to speak.For the most part, because this book was originally written in German for a German audience, the history focuses primarily on the elevator in that country, but draws several interesting comparisons with other European nations and the United States. The Americans were, for the most part, early adopters of elevator technology and innovations. Bernard notes that this innovation came in the form of electric-powered elevators, steel frame construction that allowed for taller buildings, and safety features. Building design itself changed, moving the elevator to the very center of buildings, and leading to the construction of standardized floor design with clean and open corridors (Bernard finds that this “alignment” paralleled similar developments with street layouts during the mid-to-late nineteenth century). The elevator also performed an important cultural function, changing the value assigned to floors in a building (the upper floors used to be far less desirable, or were for staff).And while I felt Bernard perhaps spent too much time on segues into the cultural history of spaces like “the garret” and on the elevator-as-confessional, Lifted is a readable and interesting account of how technology can alter both space and culture. (Also, I have one very minor quibble which is probably the result of a translation error: Parker Posey played Tom Hanks’ girlfriend, not his wife, in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”)Source: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley

  • Mike Smith
    2019-01-21 08:55

    German cultural historian Andreas Bernard noticed that a large number of German TV ads took place in elevators. He began to wonder what made the elevator such a popular spot to promote deodorant, nail polish, eyeglasses, and other products. His research led to this academically-inclined cultural history of the elevator. Bernard explains how elevators made possible buildings of more than four or five stories and how they contributed to fundamental design changes in the way hotels, apartment buildings, and offices are laid out. For example, before elevators, the upper floors of any building were the least desirable; they were hard to reach and were believed to be bad for your health (picture the starving artist in a garret or attic room). After elevators, the most posh accommodations were to be found on the highest floors, commanding sweeping views and symbolizing the occupants' high social status.Bernard also explores how elevators function as plot devices in stories and films. Sometimes, they are secret spaces where superheroes or others with hidden identities change clothes, or where illicit lovers share a moment of intimacy. Sometimes, they serve as secular confessional boxes, where secrets are revealed. Most often, elevators serve to bring together characters who might not otherwise have met (often when the elevator gets stuck, which happens far more in fiction than in real life!).Bernard focuses on the use, design, and narrative role of elevators primarily in New York City and in Germany from about the mid-nineteenth century to the 1920s and '30s (although some discussion ranges as close to the present as movies from the last few decades with key scenes set in elevators). His style can be a bit stilted and I think the translation makes up a few words to compensate for long, compound German words that have no exact equivalent in English. Overall, though, I found this a very interesting read. It opened my eyes to the impact of elevators on modern city life and storytelling.

  • P.e. lolo
    2019-01-07 00:52

    Lifted is a book about the effect of elevators on our society. The first chapter goes into really the two main inventions that improved the elevator. These were the brake and the electric door connection both made for a drastic reduction in accidents. The only injuries after these were during installation and men not paying attention during repair. The next part of the book talks about how the elevator changes the life of people living in tenement settings and anyone above the fifth floor. People who were either elderly or sick and young mothers having to carry a carriage up and down many flights of stairs would not go outside as much and there for with the stall air and not getting enough sun light they would continue to stay sick or get sick. The elevator allowed people to go out more often and to get out of the stall air that was in these buildings. I found this to be very interesting. After the 1920s and more into the 30s the larger apartments were beginning to be built on the top floors. Before this the bottom two floors had the larger apartments, the more expansive. I have noticed that in some of my travels that some older buildings in San Francisco and New York, for example had stairs not an elevator and because of the age of the building and the size you would not be able to install one. These both being hotels just carrying our bags up three floors was a chore. I can only imagined want it was like at the turn of the century. Towards the end of the book he talks about some of the movies that have an elevator in that is stuck and the people not knowing if they are going to get out start making statements of what they are going to do if they get out. For example, “you got mail”. I thought all of these facts to be very interesting and when he speaks high rises that really took off from the 30s for us, Europe did not start building them steadily until the 50s. over all a very good book. I got this book from net galley.

  • Mandy
    2018-12-26 05:52

    This is an endlessly fascinating book about lifts, or elevators, a subject to which I have paid very little attention in the past. But it turns out that lifts have been essential to the evolution of the modern city and modern architecture. Before we had lifts, buildings could only be as tall as people were willing to walk up the stairs. Obvious, of course, once it’s pointed out. Once the lift was invented (New York in the 1850s) buildings could be as tall as technology allowed. And not only did lifts mean taller buildings, but they also had a wide-ranging impact on all aspects of our lives. Instead of dingy garrets, you could now have luxury penthouses. A new etiquette had to evolve – how to behave in a lift. It wasn’t long before lifts took centre stage in literature and film. We may take them for granted nowadays, but we really shouldn’t. Andreas Bernard has done extensive research for his eye-opening book, going into the technology and architectural aspects of lifts (such as their position in a building) and their sociological and psychological impact. This is a new way of looking at lifts and their impact, and this is an immensely readable and entertaining read, extensively illustrated, and full of absorbing information.

  • Patrick Sprunger
    2019-01-18 00:58

    With the unusually high ticket price and hysterically esoteric subject matter, Lifted is one of those books one picks up, not on impulse, but with an incredulous, what the heck is going on here? curiosity. One just has to see what this is about. The cultural history of the elevator: indeed!And, dang, if Lifted isn't a fine little book, full of genuine insights into the transformation of the urban environment and ourselves (from twoIndependent vantage points: Western Europe and North America), viewed through the novel lens of the passenger elevator.

  • William Nist
    2019-01-09 08:06

    A intelligent yet fun book on how the invention of the elevator has changed cultural history. Reminds me of something Roland Barthes might have written. Who knew the elevator would turn history upside down (or maybe vertical from horizontal!)I advise you to catch a play about being trapped in an elevator with some other people. You will see what this book is trying quite successfully to explicate.