“all Safe, Gentlemen, All Safe!”


Observation elevators have also been built to travel on exterior walls, as they do at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, where ascending passengers are treated, fog permitting, to a spectacular and expanding view of the city and its bay. Even in an age of jet travel—and what can one really see from a 747?—riding elevators like these can yield some of the childlike pleasure felt by those who experienced for the first time the stately motion of the vertical screw railway, or who rocketed up, at six hundred feet a minute, to the twenty-second floor of the World Building, heads and shoulders pressed tight against the wall to ward off elevator sickness.