Friday, April 25, 2008

Lifts (elevators) - getting trapped - and a near forgotten post about the Gherkin

I stumbled across a remarkable story this evening. First was the story of Nicholas White who was trapped in a lift in a New York building for . The security camera footage of his incarceration is on YouTube, and there's an extended piece in The New Yorker that explains what happened along with the unexpected repercussions.

The article is fascinating, full of details about how and why lifts (elevators) work the way they did. It reminded me of a post I recalled writing a year or so ago on the lifts in the Gherkin. But could I find it?

Eventually it turned up as a draft post last touched on 12 January 2007 and never quite published! The post was to be based around a selection of photos taken in and around St Paul's Cathedral in London. But the nugget I remembered was about the two-stage lifts.

Now writing in a blog entitled “Alan in Belfast” I should probably be posting about St Anne’s Cathedral (conveniently built in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter) ... but spending so many days and nights working in the centre of London, the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral dominates more than the Stan’s more modest Cathedral in Belfast.

That and the sight of 30 St Mary Axe (better known as “The Gherkin”) popping out from the ragged skyline of grey buildings.

Trivia: There’s a bar on the top (40th) glassy floor of the Gherkin. So it wasn’t possible to put the lift winding gear on top of the building as normal. Instead the architects designed one set of lifts that go up as far as the 34th floor, with a smaller lift pushed up from underneath to reach the upper floors. From 39 up to 40 you’ve got to walk up the marble stairs, or use the stair lift.

St Paul’s is a beautiful building. Day and night, its crisp lines stand out against the clear sky. (So often it appears to be a clear blue sky, or black if it’s after 4pm. Clouds seem rare in the sky above St Paul’s. Special place!)

No wonder that Charles and Di favoured it over Westminster Abbey for their wedding back on 29 July 1981.


Jake said...

Its funny how you just brought this to our attention. As of recent I have just read on how a man fell down a lift shaft and was stuck there for a day till rescued - apparently he survived the fall because he landed on a woman who had previously fell down the day before, the woman was killed.

Alan in Belfast said...

Joke a minute with Jake!