Otis, Elisha Graves
Elisha Graves Otis (1811-1861) was an American mechanic and inventor. Otis invented the elevator brake, which greatly improved the safety of elevators. He used a ratchet on a spring to catch the elevator in the event of an accident (like a broken cable). In 1854, at the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York, Otis demonstrated how safe his elevator was by cutting the elevator’s cable with an ax, and the elevator car stayed where it was in the shaft. Otis’ invention spurred the development of skyscrapers, changing the look of cities around the world forever. Otis also invented a railway safety brake and improvements to turbine engines and brass bed frames.