The World’s First Escalator Was Installed in Coney Island 120 Years Ago

Posted On Fri, July 15, 2016 By

Posted On Fri, July 15, 2016 By In Coney Island, History

When you think of Coney Island, cutting edge technology probably does not come to mind. But well over a century ago, this little enclave of amusement and thrills was where the world’s very first working escalator was installed.

In 1896, engineer Jesse W. Reno brought his patented “Endless Conveyor Elevator” (though he called it the “inclined elevator”) to the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island. Reno’s invention stretched a mere seven feet angled at 25-degrees, and instead of steps, the escalator used a conveyor-like belt fashioned with cast-iron cleats for traction. The Coney Island installation is said to have carried over 75,000 patrons over its two-week residency.

 

Jesse Reno Inclined Elevator, worlds first escalator at coney island by jesse w. renoImage via Astor Place Vintage

Interestingly, the design was extracted from a rejected, but admirable and ambitious, transportation proposal for the city. According to Lehigh University, Reno’s alma mater:

“In the early part of 1896, Reno submitted extensive plans to New York City officials to build a double-decker subway system beneath the city’s streets. His plans included designs for ‘inclined elevators’ to transport passengers from street to underground station. His plans were rejected, but his ideas survived. Several innovative features on the original inclined elevator are found in the modern escalator, including the rubber-covered chain handrail and a comb of projecting fingers at each end of the machine. This latter feature prevented users’ feet and other objects from getting stuck in the motion of the conveyor when exiting at floor level.”

While underwhelming when compared to the escalators we see stretching across malls and airports today, for the time, Reno’s invention was quite extraordinary. A few short months after its Coney Island debut, the escalator was temporarily installed at the Manhattan entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge. It proliferated in the years that followed, added to numerous department stores and railway stations in the Northeast and England.

Reno eventually sold his patent to Otis Elevator Company and reaped enough cash from the sale for early retirement.

RELATED: 

Tags : , ,

Neighborhoods : Coney Island

MOST RECENT ARTICLES

  • Park Slope co-op with custom bookshelves reaching 18 feet asks $1.65M

    Park Slope co-op with custom bookshelves reaching 18 feet asks $1.65M

    A renovation for this Park Slope co-op left it in lovely condition. The lofty floorplan–which boasts 18-foot ceilings–was taken full ...
  • Weekly highlights: Top picks from the 6sqft staff

    Weekly highlights: Top picks from the 6sqft staff

    Swale floating park returns this spring with a new look Kushner Cos. vision for 666 Fifth Avenue has Zaha Hadid ...
  • Stackable furniture line from Debra Folz Design makes storage stylish

    Stackable furniture line from Debra Folz Design makes storage stylish

    There are all types of stackable furniture out there, and while many of them function perfectly well, they’re not always ...
  • This $4M Riverdale mansion, known as the Esmeralda, was built in 1899 and still impresses today

    This $4M Riverdale mansion, known as the Esmeralda, was built in 1899 and still impresses today

    The historic mansions of Riverdale never fail to impress, and this gem is no exception. Built in 1899 and known ...
  • Renzo Piano’s 565 Broome Street on the rise; the world of Hamilton at Green-Wood Cemetery

    Renzo Piano’s 565 Broome Street on the rise; the world of Hamilton at Green-Wood Cemetery

    After launching sales in September, Renzo Piano’s two-towered 565 Broome Street is finally on the rise. [CityRealty] The quest to ...
  • FREE RENT: This week’s roundup of NYC’s rental concessions

    FREE RENT: This week’s roundup of NYC’s rental concessions

    Upper West Side Beaux Arts Beauty ‘The Willard’ Offering Two Months Free, 1-Bedrooms From $2,996/Month [link] Live at LIC’s Hayden: ...
  • 432 Park would have generated $30M for affordable housing with de Blasio’s mansion tax

    432 Park would have generated $30M for affordable housing with de Blasio’s mansion tax

    Outside of 432 Park Avenue, Mayor de Blasio held a press conference on Thursday to discuss his mansion tax. The ...
  • City reveals garment district rezoning plans, citing incentives to move makers to Sunset Park

    City reveals garment district rezoning plans, citing incentives to move makers to Sunset Park

    At a Manhattan community board meeting Wednesday evening, city officials told garment industry representatives of plans to remove Midtown‘s manufacturing ...
  • The Urban Lens: Behind the counter and into the caves at Murray’s Cheese

    The Urban Lens: Behind the counter and into the caves at Murray’s Cheese

    6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. ...
  • New renderings revealed for NYCHA’s raised earth Red Hook Houses by KPF

    New renderings revealed for NYCHA’s raised earth Red Hook Houses by KPF

    When Superstorm Sandy hit the community of Red Hook, thousands of residents were left without power and basic necessities for ...
  • Judge once again stops work at Pier 55 over environmental concerns

    Judge once again stops work at Pier 55 over environmental concerns

    If you thought the roller coaster that is Pier 55 was over since construction began in November, you may not want ...
  • Amtrak will provide additional weekend service between Boston and New York

    Amtrak will provide additional weekend service between Boston and New York

    Amtrak will soon offer more weekend service options between Boston and New York, the railroad company announced Thursday. Those who ...

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTERS

Thank you, your sign-up request was successful!
This email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.