Discovery: Hand Powered Sidewalk Elevators

By April 14, 2014blog
hand-powered sidewalk elevator detail

A walkthru of an old property led us to the sidewalk vault (a cellar level room beyond the property line, beneath the sidewalk) and revealed an interesting artifact: there, at the ceiling, an assembly of three pulleys held together by an iron plate and supported by a rusty post – what can this strange device be?

hand-powered sidewalk elevator detailA bit of digging around on Google Books led us to believe we’d found the remnants of a hand-powered sidewalk elevator; all that remained were the iron cross-heads and their distinctive 3-pulley arrangement.

hand-powered sidewalk elevator planThe gear-driven, tension wire lifting mechanism was gone, as was the wooden platform that would have shuttled goods from cellar to sidewalk and back, but it was easy to imagine the utility of the mechanism.

Sedgwick sidewalk elevator advertisementSedgwick sidewalk elevator advertisement 2

And here it must be said: between the devastation of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, these ingenious stand-alone hand-powered mechanical contrivances of the 19th century hold a great, comforting appeal. I can’t wait to share this “new” wonder..