2017-11-08 / Features

Elevator Museum Descends On Long Island City

By Jason D. Antos

PHOTO ATLAS OBSCURAPHOTO ATLAS OBSCURA Elevators are older than you might expect. Vertical travel has been around since the 1850s. Patrick Carrajat’s elevator artifact collection goes back almost as far. Patrick Carrajat, who is the founder and sole curator of the one-room museum, has been collecting bits and pieces of elevators since he was eleven. (Atlas Obscura).

The museum's founder and creator is Patrick Carr, a man who has been in the elevator industry for more than six decades. Carr knows about elevators the way the Yankees know about World Series. He has been a repairman, a manufacturer and a consultant in the elevator field.

Carr opened the Elevator Historical Society in Long Island City in 2011 and billed it as the world’s only museum devoted to elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters and outside hoists. It consisted mainly of artifacts from his personal collection, which he has been assembling since he started working, at the age of eleven, as an apprentice to his father, an elevator mechanic.

Carr opened an Otis Elevator Company order book from the eighteen-seventies, with purchases entered in the medieval-seeming script of one of the sons of Elisha Otis, the company’s founder. He and Wilk advanced the hot take that it was another Otis, a Massachusetts inventor named Otis Tufts, who deserved more credit for the introduction of the elevator as a passenger conveyance. Tufts had designed a “vertical railway” that ascended on a giant screw thread, in the old Fifth Avenue Hotel.

Carr was in conversation with people from the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1, in New York, and Local 4, in Boston, who were coming to have a look at the collection. Wilk’s favorite item: a photograph of a Pinkerton agent holding a double-barreled shotgun, protecting a lift from a mob during the elevator-operator strike of 1936.

Last month, Carr announced that he was closing the museum. The museum, which did not charge admission, was on the second floor of the Taxi Building at 21-03 44th Avenue, Suite 206, in Long Island City.

The museum featured thousands of pieces of vintage bric-a-brac, among them an array of analog floor-indicator dials (both “half-moon” and “full moon”), which summoned memories of old-movie elevator scenes. On a wall nearby was a photograph labeled “Elevator to Hitler’s Summer Retreat.”

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