Going to the next level
In 1955, Oregon City, Ore., dedicated its municipal elevator, which replaced a similar water-powered structure that was constructed in 1913 to connect residential areas along a cliff with the business district below. The $172,000 electrical elevator, which was manufactured by Otis Elevator Co., boasted state-of-the art technology, including push-button operation and automatic doors, according to the October 1955 issue of The American City. The structure featured a 13-foot-9-inch-diameter column topped by an observation room with panoramic views of the city and the Willamette River, looking toward Portland. The city employed an elevator operator who was available at all times to provide free rides for residents and visitors.
Today, Oregon City’s municipal elevator is one of only four such structures in the world. Each day, the 130-foot-high elevator carries nearly 800 people, or as many as 1,300 people daily during the city’s summer tourism season. Residents and tourists still are treated to free rides and are accompanied by an elevator operator. By January 2004, the engine room of the municipal elevator was computerized, and the elevator cart was refurbished. More recently, new flooring and lighting was installed. The city plans to include a public art project at the site by June 30.