A lift is infrastructure to transport a body up and down.

Its ultimate job is not to fall. As with much technology, the origin story of the elevator begins with a performance, a miraculous unveiling. In 1854 at the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations in New York City, Elisha Graves Otis let fall a platform on which he stood 50 feet above his audience. But plummet it did not, stopped by the safety device that he invented. The true innovation was not the ability to raise up a platform, but the surety of being able to stop it if it fell.

The lift sustains the city, making living and working possible in high-rise buildings. The skyscraper inscribes the elevator shaft at the centre of its design. With the elevator and the steel frame, the skyscraper comes into existence as a model of modern life. The technology of the lift is determined by the limit to building height and new efforts to build up require new experiments in lift technology.

Authors: Bridget Kenny and Simon Gush