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What do the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Kremlin, and the Burj Khalifa have in common?  Elevators from the Otis Elevator Company. The company, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary today, has an interesting history: it was founded in 1853, the year Elisha Otis invented the elevator safety brake. Before Otis' invention, buildings rarely reached seven stories (elevators were considered just too dangerous to implement). But it was Otis' elevator that would allow for the creation, and proliferation of, the skyscraper - an explosion that would for ever alter the 20th and 21st century skylines.  Read more about the Otis Elevators influence on skyscraper design (and how Otis performed a death-defying feat to increase the invention's popularity), after the break... The first elevator shaft (built in 1853) actually preceded the first elevator by about four years; architect Peter Cooper, confident that a safe elevator would soon be invented, designed New York's Union Foundation building with a cylindrical shaft (thinking that the most efficient shape). Otis would later design a special elevator just for the building.  View more View full description
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