Elevator Myths

In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works. … The escape hatch is always locked. By law, it’s bolted shut, from the outside. It’s there so that emergency personnel can get in, not so passengers can get out.

That is from a New Yorker article on elevators. 

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  • burger flipper

    Also don’t miss the related link at the article: a time-lapse video of the man stuck for 2 days.

  • Chance

    The close door button on our elevators here doesn’t do anything. The doors close at the same time no matter what – I’ve tested it many times. The open door button does work, but it’s easier just to stick your hand between the doors.

  • Sam Boogliodemus

    That seems to be the case in the United States. In Europe and the Middle East, the close button always seems to work.

  • Silas

    The escape hatch is always locked. By law, it’s bolted shut, from the outside. It’s there so that emergency personnel can get in, not so passengers can get out.

    Another little-known fact is that cemetery gates are to keep zombies in, not to keep graverobbers out.

    It’s far more important to protect us from conversations with people who don’t have qualia, than to protect the integrity of graves.

  • http://web.mit.edu/sjordan/www/ Stephen

    When in foriegn countries, you shouldn’t stick your hand between the elevator doors to keep them open. It is not standard practice in all countries to have a mechanism that reopens the doors if an obstacle is detected. The same goes for doors on subways. At least, this is a rumor I have heard.

  • mobile

    Well, it always works eventually.

    At a seminar in grad school, one of the speakers was a consultant who, among other things, gave advice about elevators. One of his clients was an office tower manager whose tenants complained that they had to wait too long for elevators. This guy visited the building, got the elevator logic specs, built all the software simulations, and ultimately recommended … to install mirrors in the lobby so that at least people could look at themselves while waiting for the elevator.

  • http://yorkshire-ranter.blogspot.com/ Alex

    Tangentially, aircraft toilets are never actually locked. You know the engaged/vacant sign on the door, just over the handle? There is a metal plate just below which hinges upwards; behind that is the other end of the bolt you slide across to lock the door from inside. If someone freaks inside the can and forgets how to get out, starts trying to mix their liquid explosive, fucking, smoking or whatever, that’s how the flight attendant opens the door.

  • Matt

    Anyone know what music the elevator movie is set to?

    • Wile Coyote


  • Roland

    In most elevators you cannot unselect floors if you have mistakenly pressed the wrong floor button. The only exception so far was an old elevator(from the 60s or 70s) where I saw this feature implemented with old style buttons(there was a smaller button below the floor button to unselect). It should be easier to make this with the modern digital elevators, but nobody seems to have thought of that.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/RobinZ/ Robin Z

    Huh. Does pushing the button again for your destination work?

    (Oddly, the moral I pulled out of the story was “you should always have some form of entertainment on you”.)

  • FS

    To my continuing astonishment, the elevator in my building arrives sooner when I press the call-button more than once. Plus, the close-door button inside the elevator actually closes the door. It’s miraculous! Thank heaven for 1970’s era technology!

  • http://www.2kad.net Paul

    Lifts (or elevators as you call them) round here don’t have close buttons, but they often have open buttons so that if you are in the lift and you see someone approaching the lift as the doors close you can reopen them.

  • chistine lane


    • Beezle

      Its bolted shut to keep idiots from climbing out of a suck lift and either falling to their death or getting crushed by the lift if it decides to move. An elevator car is considered a “safe house”. Take it from a elevator mechanic, press the emergency phone, relax, and sit tight. Let trained personnel get you out.