Time for Wasting Time: Fascinating Niche Escalator Podcast

We have our own podcast, sure, but it’s just us reading the daily news, newscaster style — a simple way for vertical-transportation buffs to keep up with the latest news by simply logging on to our site and plugging in their earphones. Apparently, there are other vertical-transportation-specific podcasts out there that get a little more jiggy with it. Your author found out about one such such podcast through The Guardian, in a piece titled, “A show about escalators, a show about cows: what’s your favourite extremely niche podcast?” Guardian writers described Australia’s Lindsey Green’s “People Movers” podcast about escalators as an “absolute joy,” with a “well-defined sense of sound design and humor throughout.” Your author visited Green’s podcast website, and was very impressed by the segment titles and photos, such as this one of Green at the Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong — the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world — which has been featured in ELEVATOR WORLD. We are looking forward to actually listening to Green’s podcast, but fear it will be a tremendous — but fun and informative — time waster.

Green’s joy from riding Hong Kong’s Central-Mid-Levels escalator system in Hong Kong — the longest in the world — is apparent.

“You Need to Get Down Here!”

Old postcard touting The Detroit; via Fox 13 News

“You need to get down here! Don’t tear that out!” Those are the words Pete Mortellano of Tampa-St. Petersburg-based G&M Contracting heard over the phone when G&M employees were working to incorporate a restaurant into The Detroit, an 1890s hotel-turned-condominium building, Fox 13 News reports. What the person on the phone was referring to was a fancy antique elevator, with an ornate green cab trimmed in gold, along with all its mechanisms. In addition to the dazzling cab, also entombed in the walls were an electric motor, transfer case, spool, cabling and a hand-wired, hand-numbered switching panel. The system was made by The Warner Elevator Mfg. Co., and was in use when John F. Kennedy campaigned in Tampa-St. Pete in 1959. Fox newscaster Lloyd Sowers said the owners of the new restaurant plan to preserve the elevator, which “even though it hasn’t moved in decades, is now the express elevator to a different age.”

Environmental Sounds


The Tesla lineup (l-r): Models S, X, 3 and Y; photo from Tesla.

Soft and unobtrusive, so-called “elevator music” was originally designed to have a calming, soothing effect on people who were anxious about riding in elevators (especially those riding for the first time). For a time, the uncomplicated melodies and orchestral arrangements were fairly ubiquitous, emanating not only from elevator cars, but also waiting rooms, shopping malls and even car radios. At some point, though, the simple – some would say bland – tunes began to fall from favor, with many people becoming openly hostile toward the unassuming genre. As the hostility grew, the number of places you could hear the music became less and less, until even few elevators continued to serve up their signature sounds.

Not everyone hates elevator music, however, and a recently announced plan by a tech billionaire – none other than Elon Musk – could mark a comeback of sorts for the musical style. According to USA Today, the entrepreneur plans to have the electric cars from his company Tesla play elevator music through their external speakers, sharing the sound with pedestrians and other motorists. Musk announced the new offering in an August 20 tweet. No timeline was given as to when the feature would be available, but Tesla frequently sends upgrades via over-the-air updates (similar to smartphones), so it could happen anytime.