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The Gallery | 125 years of the escalator

The humble escalator is celebrating its 125th birthday after the first one was installed in New York in 1893.

Escalators were invented by Jesse Reno and patented on 15 March 1892. The first was known as an “incline elevator” and was installed at the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island in New York City on 16 January 1893. The moving staircase transported passengers on a conveyor belt at a 25° angle and traveled 2.1m.

The escalator ran for two weeks at the Old Pier before moving to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is estimated 75,000 passengers during its stay at the Old Pier.

According to escalator manufacturer Thyssenkrupp today over 100bn people use escalators in America alone each year.

Did you know…

  • The Central-Mid-Levels escalator is the world’s longest escalator at almost 800m long. It is a mix of stepped and flat moving walkways and is installed in Hong Kong.
  • Some escalators have been designed for Royalty and include a “Royal mode”, a personal stop start button for the King or Queen.
  • In hot countries, cooling units can be built into the handrails so passengers don’t burn their hands as they hold on.
  • The fastest escalators installed by Thyssenkrupp can go at up to 0.9m/s and can be found in metro stations in Prague and Russia.
  • The average life span of an escalator is around 20 to 30 years before it needs modernisation or repair.
  • All escalators are tailor made for their position. There are basic structures, but configurations such as height, width, angle of inclination, speed, motor, or energy efficiency can be varied according to the customer requirements.


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