The elevator is a modern-day convenience that adds to the peculiar pleasures of living and working in a high-rise.
In ancient times, the lever and pulley system was used to lift heavy objects from the ground. Humans too were transported in the same manner but not on a large scale. As the concrete jungle grew around the world, giving way to the construction of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, staircases became a nuisance, as climbing multiple floors became tiresome and time consuming. This is when Elisha Graves Otis came into the limelight, the founder of the Otis Elevator Company. In 1854, he devised the safety equipment for elevators which prevented them from falling in case the cables supporting them broke..
These devices, also known as ‘lifts’, slowly spread across the globe. In the subcontinent, elevators were intro- duced by the British and installed in buildings and apartment complexes. Interestingly, these old elevators, some as old as a hundred years and quite primitive in design, are still functioning quite efficiently in the larger cities of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They have cages and doors that are actually steel grills. The doors are opened and closed manually. Some are maintained quite immaculately and move smoothly while others have interiors that are quite creepy but they do their job.
In some parts of Karachi, where the British form of architecture prevails, such elevators are still functional but are becoming difficult to use and maintain. The floor buttons on these creaky contraptions have faded after use over such a long period, car- pets and floor paddings have become worn out and ceilings are almost falling down. Sometimes, the experience of getting into such elevators can be quite an eerie one. As soon as one steps in, the elevator jerks and heaves a bit and your first thought is whether the pulleys are strong enough to take you to the desired floor. The second jolt comes when the elevator actually begins to move and one can feel the force of gravity acting on your body - but they still carry on regardless.
Over the past decades, as the city of Karachi has gone through a massive transformation in terms of new building techniques and trends, elevators too have kept up with modern needs. With the corporate environment becoming more refined and new avenues of business opening up, there