The Elevator Operator – A Throwback to Days Gone By

Recently Lee posted a few blogs on an Elevator Operator whose time was coming to an end.  Today I came across two more articles pertaining to this profession.  These articles really got me to thinking.  Have I have EVER actually seen an Elevator Operator?  Out of the hundreds of elevator rides and a dozen or more countries visited, I can honestly say that I have never had the opportunity to share the same elevator as one.  So, just how scarce is the Elevator Operator?  Is there any way of finding this out?  Maybe there isn’t, but if any of our blog readers know of any we are asking that they please share with us.  We would love to follow up with a  story of our own.

In the meantime, here is the article I spoke about: Elevator Operator Living Her Dream.

11 thoughts on “The Elevator Operator – A Throwback to Days Gone By

  1. Unless things have changed recently, the Fine Arts building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago has manually operated elevators without any automatic control. Similarly, the Del Coronado Hotel on Del Cleaning Island near San Diego has had manually operated elevators for ever, although I haven’t personally been there for over 10 years so that may have changed since then.

    The Elgin Tower in Elgin, Illinois had manually operated elevators as of five years or so ago. I believe the owner of the Elgin Tower has another lower-rise building in downtown Elgin with manually operated elevators. If memory serves, these are partially automated and the attendant performs some functions. There is another building like this in South Bend, Indiana although I don’t recall the name.

    The Smith Tower in Seattle has elevator attendants, but added push-button control several years ago. I believe the attendants are maintained for historical and tourism purposes, as I doubt they are needed anymore. While I’m sure there are other examples out there, the others I can think of are situations like this where the attendants are there for customer service purposes, such as is the case with locations like the Space Needle — the elevators are fully-automatic, but the attendant does the button-pushing and delivers some information about the attraction.

  2. Rob, I hope to visit some of these places to see an operator in action!

    On a sad note, I’m 27 years old and have never seen an elevator operator.

  3. I live near our headquarters in Mobile, Alabama. We don’t have a lot of elevators here in the first place, but I keep looking for attendants when I travel!

  4. Just saw an interesting installation at Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee. It has no call buttons and was designed to be Captain Pabst’s personal elevator so it is tiny, and while manually operated, I am guessing it’s didn’t have an attendant. The docent giving the tour said it still works, but is not used. She also didn’t know the manufacturer. Still neat to see, given that I didn’t expect to see an elevator on the tour.

    Here is the URL:

  5. I have seen elevator operators in my time. There used to be manual elevators in the Marshall field building and Jelers row on franklin in Chicago.

  6. I work in a building in South Bend, Indiana that has still has elevator operators. Unfortunately, this are slated to be replaced beginning this month.

  7. Hey!

    This is a bit of a long shot but I was wondering if anyone knows how a manually-operated elevator works?


  8. FITZWILLY’S building in Northampton MA has a bird cage water powered elevator that has an operator. The controlls they use are modern because of stupid code reasons. There is a up and down buttion that have to be continusely held down for the elevator to move.

  9. I am in the Fine Arts building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago right now. They have three very historic looking elevators…two running at the moment…with elevator operators! I was quite surprised to see this in 2017!

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