Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator [NOOK Book]

Overview

Before skyscrapers forever transformed the landscape of the modern metropolis, the conveyance that made them possible had to be created. Invented in New York in the 1850s, the elevator became an urban fact of life on both sides of the Atlantic by the early twentieth century. While it may at first glance seem a modest innovation, it had wide-ranging effects, from fundamentally restructuring building design to reinforcing social class hierarchies by moving luxury apartments to upper levels, previously the domain of...
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Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator

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Overview

Before skyscrapers forever transformed the landscape of the modern metropolis, the conveyance that made them possible had to be created. Invented in New York in the 1850s, the elevator became an urban fact of life on both sides of the Atlantic by the early twentieth century. While it may at first glance seem a modest innovation, it had wide-ranging effects, from fundamentally restructuring building design to reinforcing social class hierarchies by moving luxury apartments to upper levels, previously the domain of the lower classes. The cramped elevator cabin itself served as a reflection of life in modern growing cities, as a space of simultaneous intimacy and anonymity, constantly in motion.In this elegant and fascinating book, Andreas Bernard explores how the appearance of this new element changed notions of verticality and urban space. Transforming such landmarks as the Waldorf-Astoria and Ritz Tower in New York, he traces how the elevator quickly took hold in large American cities while gaining much slower acceptance in European cities like Paris and Berlin. Combining technological and architectural history with the literary and cinematic, Bernard opens up new ways of looking at the elevator--as a secular confessional when stalled between floors or as a recurring space in which couples fall in love. Rising upwards through modernity,Liftedtakes the reader on a compelling ride through the history of the elevator.Andreas Bernardis editor ofSüddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest daily newspaper. He received his Ph.D. in Cultural Sciences from the Bauhaus University Weimar, and teaches cultural studies in Berlin and Lucerne, Switzerland.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Bernard’s passion for research is as impressive as the ease with which he—elevator-like—moves between the disciplines of literature, art history, sociology, and psychology.”-Der Spiegel,

“The elevator, which today seems so boring, was once a vehicle of change of compelling power. Whoever reads this book will view the world’s elevators with different eyes.”-Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,

Library Journal
03/15/2014
For most of us, the innocuous topic of the elevator is hardly the stuff of cutting-edge historical theory. But in this translation by Dollenmayer (German language & literature, Worcester Polytechnic Inst.), Bernard's groundbreaking 2011 German treatise on the revolutionary transformation of a mundane engineering marvel compels readers to reimagine what they think they know about the modern urban landscape. From Elisha Graves Otis's 1854 demonstration at the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations in New York City to the modern day, Bernard (editor, Süddeutsche Zeitung) scans the literature, philosophy, and history related to the technological innovation and presents a lucid, engaging analysis of just how Otis's elevator has gone from its original "luster of strangeness" to the "dull and inconspicuous." In the process, Bernard reminds us of Georges Canguilhem's dictum that the "history of science is not a retrospective history of progress nor the depiction of outmoded stages leading to today's truth." VERDICT Bernard's fascinating work on technological innovation, while at times a bit esoteric, will find a ready audience among readers with a passion for innovative philosophical and cultural histories. Fans of Wolfgang Schivelbusch's The Railway Journey may especially find it appealing.—Brian Odom, Birmingham, AL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781479873487
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 319,913
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Andreas Bernard is editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest daily newspaper. He received his Ph.D. in Cultural Sciences from the Bauhaus University Weimar, and teaches cultural studies in Berlin and Lucerne, Switzerland.

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