In 1852, Elisha G. Otis gave us all a way to avoid taking the stairs when he developed what would become the modern-day elevator. Today, the simple push of an elevator button can lead you to experiences both high and low.
Bradbury Building Los Angeles. The two open-cage lifts that complement the glass roof, marble staircases, and wood-and-wrought-iron railings of this 1893 office building's five-story atrium appear briefly in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. (213) 626-1893.
Hoover Dam Boulder City, Nev. Take the Discovery Tour for a top-to-bottom look at one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century, including a 580-foot elevator descent through the canyon wall. (702) 597-5970, (866) 291-8687, www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/.
Hotel del Coronado Coronado,Calif. Let Otis's original number 61, which has graced the lobby of this Victorian seaside resort since 1888, carry you up to your room. Numbers 62 and 63 are still on the job as well. (800) 468-3533, (619) 435-6611, www.hoteldel.com.
Maritime Museum of British Columbia Victoria, B.C. The elaborate bird-cagelike lift located in the 1889 Provincial Law Courts building claims the title of Canada's oldest operating elevator. (250) 385-4222, mmbc.bc.ca.
Oregon City Oregon City, Ore. This municipal elevator began operating in 1915. Today the rebuilt 90-foot lift connects the downtown with a more residential hilltop. (503) 657-0891, www.orcity.org.
Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas. Double-decker cars rocket up the tallest building west of the Mississippi River (1,149 feet) at 1,800 feet per minute. Take a gamble on the rooftop rollercoaster or the Big Shot, which launches brave souls another 160 feet up. (702) 380-7711, www.stratospherehotel.com.
Washington Park Station Portland. Four high-speed lifts link the second deepest light-rail station in the world (Moscow is home to the deepest) with woodsy Washington Park, 260 feet above. (503) 238-7433, www.trimet.org.
Westin St. Francis San Francisco. The city's five fastest glass elevators climb the exterior of this 32-story hotel nonstop in less than 30 seconds. The stomach-dropping ride includes a bird's-eye view of Union Square, Coit Tower, and the bay. (415) 397-7000, www.starwood.com.
Photography by David Zaitz
This article was first published in March 2003. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.