We have become so familiar with modern day facilities that we often tend to overlook the mastery behind some seemingly common amenities. Elevators, man made cages whose history does not stretch too long over 150 years, that take passengers up and down buildings more or less tall, have changed our lives completely. Elisha Otis is credited for developing the modern elevator, but we've come a long way since then. Buildings become taller, and the demand for faster transportation in between floors continues to grow.
It only take a push of a button, so it's easy to think elevators are up to date and no longer deserve some special attention. However, I bet I can change your opinion if you follow me on this tour of the world's fastest, most amazing, and most luxurious elevators. Imagine 45 10-story buildings one on top of the other and an elevator in the middle that is able to reach the very top. This is no longer a fantasy concept. You will see how it is not the fastest elevators that are the most expensive, but the ones that took technology and comfort to a whole new level, transforming an elevator ride into a pleasant journey you won't forget. Some of the prices associated with the elevators have been adjusted for inflation.
10 Stratosphere Tower Elevator in Las Vegas: $1.5 Million per Elevator
At 1,149 feet, the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas is the highest freestanding observation tower in the U.S. Such a majestic structure demanded an equally impressive elevator to take visitors up to the observation point. Traveling at a speed of 1,801 feet per minute, the elevator takes visitors from ground level to the very top of the tower in less than a minute. Built between 1994 and 1996, the Stratosphere Tower features four double-deck Otis elevators that pass by three floors per second, taking passengers to the 108th floor in no more than 40 seconds. The four high-speed passenger cabins can hold 16 passengers each and can make 20 round trips per hour. Each elevator cost around $1.5 million and they are the fifth fastest in the world.
9 Taipei 101 Elevators in Taiwan: $2.4 Million per Elevator
Two high-speed express elevators in the Taipei 101 Building in Taiwan carry people from the ground floor all the way to the top floor, the 101st, in no more than 39 seconds, reaching the mind-blowing speed of 3,313 feet per minute. The building itself is 1,671 feet tall and is the second tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The two Toshiba double-deck elevators in the Taipei 101 Building hold the world record for speed, they feature an aerodynamic body and full-pressurization, plus the latest breaking systems and the world's first triple-stage anti-overshooting system. It might seem nauseous to travel so fast, but the latest in technology, luxurious elevators like these are designed to combine speed with comfort. All of these elevators come at a price tag of $2.4 million each.
8 Sunshine 60 Tower Elevator in Tokyo: $3 Million For Fastest Elevator in the Building
Rising 797 feet above the ground, the Sunshine 60 Tower in Tokyo was inaugurated in 1978. At the time of completion, it held the record as the tallest in Japan. Nowadays, it is the eighth tallest. There are a total of of 40 elevators in the building, but only one of them can travel with a speed of 1,968 feet per minute, taking visitors to the 60th floor in no time. This Mitsubishi elevator is currently the fourth fastest in the world, is guaranteed not to make passengers feel sick, and costs approximately $3 million.
7 Yokohama Tower Elevators in Japan: $4 Million per Elevator
Reaching an incredible height of 972 feet above the ground, Yokohama Tower is Japan's tallest building. Completed in 1993, the tower is home to a five star hotel, as well as offices and retail space. In order to reach the top floor, the 73rd, 79 high-speed elevators take passengers up and down the tower at the incredible speed of 2,460 feet per minute, or 41 feet per second. This makes these Mitsubishi elevators the world's second fastest elevators, all with a price tag of around $4 million each.
6 Burj Khalifa Elevator in Dubai: $5 Million per Elevator
It's no surprise that the highest building in the world is home to the tallest elevator in the world. Even though the central elevator does not reach the last floor, the 160th, it does travel up to 1,822 feet above the ground to the 124th floor at the incredible speed of 1,968 feet per minute, making it the world's third fastest elevator. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai stands proudly at 2,722 feet above the ground and there are a total of 57 elevators taking clients and visitors to the top. The Otis double-deck elevators can carry between 12 to 14 people in each cabin. They are Otis' newly launched green line of elevators, the Gen2, designed to reduce energy consumption by up to 75%. Each one of the elevators in the Burj Khalifa cost around $5 million, while the cost of the building itself reaches $4.1 billion.
5 The Gateway Arch Elevator in Missouri: $10 Million
One of the greatest attractions in St. Louis, Missouri, the Gateway Arch was designed in 1947 and never seizes to impress. The elevator was installed in 1968 to facilitate access to the observation point at 630 feet above the ground. Without the elevator, visitors would have to climb up the 1,000 steps to the top. Tourists can reach the top of the arch in groups of five inside one of the eight egg shaped compartments with windows overlooking the arch. All compartments are linked to form a small train on the arch. The trip to the top of the arch takes four minutes and the trip back down takes three. When passengers reach the top, they exit the cabin and climb up to the arched observation area overlooking the Mississippi River. The Gateway Arch cost $13 million to build in 1965, which would be translated into $96 million today. However, the Science Fiction elevator itself costs another estimated $10 million.
4 Hammetschwand Elevator in Switzerland: $14.8 Million
The tallest exterior elevator in Europe is a coveted tourist attraction in itself. Connecting a spectacular rock path to the Hammetschwand lookout point and plateau overlooking Lake Lucerne, it takes less than a minute for the elevator to take tourists up to the summit. Visitors will travel at 524 feet per minute and will gain 501 feet. Think you might be getting sick? Designed by the Schindler Group, this elevator is all about comfort and enjoying the breathtaking view. Built between 1903 and 1905, it cost $550,000 at the time, which would be translated into $14,8 million today. When it was inaugurated, it could only take in eight passengers at a time and was propelled by a steam engine. In 1935, the platform was replaced with a light metal one and the Hammetschwand elevator became the fastest in the world. Nowadays, it is still among the fastest.
3 Santa Justa Lift in Portugal: $15 Million
On Santa Justa street in Lisbon, there is a tourist attraction people from all over the world come to see. Also known as the Carmo Lift, the Santa Justa elevator is the only remaining vertical elevator in Lisbon. It was built between 1900 and 1902, and at the time of completion, the elevator was propelled by a steam engine. It became an electric elevator in 1907. The Santa Justa elevator takes passengers 147 feet above the ground. It is neither the tallest, nor the fastest in the world, but it is definitely one of the most luxurious. Decorated in neo-Gothic style cast iron, each floor is different from another, and the price tag for this fine work of art would be translated into well over $15 million today.
2 The AquaDom Elevator in Germany: $17.4 Million
If you happen to visit Berlin by any chance, make sure to pay a visit to the Radisson Hotel and take a ride in the AquaDom elevator. Inaugurated in 2004, it is one of the most impressive and one of the most expensive elevators ever built. An 82 foot tall cylindrical glass aquarium is pierced by a built-in transparent elevator. The Acrylic cylinder is the largest cylindrical aquarium in the world , with a diameter of 36 feet and filled with 264,000 gallons of water. It is home to numerous species of fish, all of which can be admired if taking the elevator. With a price tag of $17.4 million, the AquaDom elevator is the pride and joy of the Berlin Sea Life Center.
1 Bailong Elevator in China: $19 Million
The Bailong elevator in China is all about superlatives. It is the highest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world, as well as the fastest sightseeing elevator, with the greatest capacity, being able to transport 50 people at a time. Construction lasted three years and the elevator was inaugurated in 2002. It takes less than 2 minutes for the elevator to reach the summit. The over 1,070 foot tall glass elevator was built on one of the tallest cliffs in the Zhangjiajie region, and is perhaps the most impressive glass elevators in the world. The elevator itself will not make you sick, but you might consider thinking twice before embarking if you are scared of heights. The cost to build the Bailong elevator reached a whopping $19 million.