Six Stories- the memory palace | WBEZ
Skip to main content

99% Invisible

Six Stories- the memory palace

Elevators are old. They would have to be. Because it is in our nature to rise. History is full of things that lift other things. In ancient Greece, and China, and Hungary, there were systems of weights and pulleys and platforms designed to bring nobility--or their meals--to new heights. And somewhere below were draft animals, or even people, tasked with turning a wheel to bring these early elevators up and down. One man even spent the year of 1743 in a chimney in order to turn a lever to raise King Louis XV on a platform so the king wouldn't have to walk up a single flight of stairs. These elevators were dangerous. Ropes would snap, and then anything getting raised or lowered would plummet to the ground. Fall one story and you break your leg--fall two stories you break your neck. And this fear of falling kept building heights low. People only wanted to ascend as high as they could walk. The tallest buildings for most of the 19th century were churches, or lighthouses--buildings made up primarily of empty space. And then came Elisha Otis. Nate Dimeo from the memory palace provides our stories today. It's a fantastic monthly program everyone should subscribe to.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.

CLOSE X