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An elevator is a transportation device used to move goods or people vertically.

Elevators began as simple rope or chain hoists. An elevator consists of a cab or platform, the ropes required to raise and lower it and machinery to move the rope. Later refinements included steam power and hydraulic power.

In 1853, Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator, which prevented the fall of the cab if the cable broke, and on March 23, 1857 his first elevator was installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.

The first electric elevator was built by Werner von Siemens in 1880.

The development of elevators allowed easy access to the upper storeys of tall buildings and skyscrapers.

In general, there are two types of elevators:

Difference between American and British English: in British English, elevators are known more commonly as lifts, although the word elevator is familiar from American movies and television shows.

A different kind of elevator is used to transport material. It generally consists of an inclined plane on which a conveyor belt runs. The conveyor often includes partitions to prevent the material from sliding backwards. These elevators are often used in industrial and agricultural applications.

Elevators are also control surfaces on the wings of aircraft which control vertical ascent by changing the lift profile of the wing. The Wright Brothers' early aircraft worked by actually changing the shape of the entire wing. Today only a relatively small portion of the trailing edge of the wing is moved.

See also: Grain elevator, Elevator music, Space elevator