- San Francisco
- U.S. + Canada
- The Tokyo Area
- St. Louis
World's Greatest Elevator Views
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Hop on, lift off, and take a ride on these memorable elevators,
from St. Louis to Switzerland.
In the famous elevator scene from the movie Willy Wonka
& the Chocolate Factory, the wacky candy maker treats golden
ticket-holder and company heir apparent Charlie Bucket to a trip aboard his
glass elevator. This lift travels “sideways, and slantways, and longways, and
backways....” Ultimately, it shoots right through the roof and soars over city
Of course, elevators of this sort don’t exist—at least not
right now, anyway—but there are plenty of lifts that can turn a boring few
minutes staring at metal (or worse, mirrored) walls into an exhilarating thrill
ride. Thanks largely to the clear glass sides, passengers are rewarded with
amazing views that literally put the outside landscape on display.
These elevators are a far cry from the pulley system–based
contraptions used as far back as late 200 B.C., or even the “modern elevator,” introduced
in the mid-1800s for moving freight (the first passenger lift debuted at an NYC department store in 1857).
Today, following the same basic design (with some safety and
technological improvements), elevators are everywhere, moving the masses up and
down. Many are even well-known features in iconic landmarks, like those found
in the Eiffel Tower’s legs and main shaft. The City of Light’s famed metal
tower has lifts that haul travelers to the top lookout point, some 540 feet (or
54 stories) off the ground, where they’re greeted by bird’s-eye views of the Parc
du Champ de Mars and the equally famous Arc de Triomphe.
Other elevators aren’t as public. The Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco is home to a set of lifts that offer some of the best views of Union Square,
from as high as 32 stories. (The elevators are technically for guests,
so you should at least try to act like one.)
And while all of the elevators have the propensity to incite
a bit of heart-pounding excitement, none has the ability to make its riders as
prone to panic attacks as the cliffside Bailong Elevator, which can cart dozens
of people nearly 1,100 feet off the ground. Just try not to freak out while
watching the ground slowly disappear below!
Acrophobics, beware: it’s probably a good idea for you to
sit these out. But if heights don’t bother you and you’re looking for a thrill,
read on for some of the best elevator views from around the world.