Throwback Thursday: A Glimpse at Back Issues

Figure 1: EW 1997 issues

by Peng Jie,EW Correspondent

More than two decades ago, I began the habit of putting my EW issues of the year in order. Once, I asked EW founder William C. Sturgeon a question regarding the back issues, “Where is the October issue, which I’ve never seen?” He replied soon by fax, “Source Directory is the October issue of Elevator World.” In January 2018, when I was putting my 2017 issues in order, the October issue was there, plus the Source Directory. The situation evolved in 2002 and has remained so to date.

Figure 2: An advertisement for Suzhou Jiangnan (now SJEC), one of the first Chinese advertisers in EW

We were reluctant to say goodbye to 2017, as the year marked a lot of significant and memorable events, ELEVATOR WORLD-wide as well as worldwide, as had been the case two decades ago. Surprisingly, my 1997 issues have been so well preserved that there is not a single missing issue. When I put all them together in monthly order, I noticed a change in the spine (Figure 1). Shortly before 1997, EW began to take in advertisers from China. The very first was The Capital Steelworks Guiderail (Shougang), followed by Ningbo Xinda and Suzhou Jiangnan (Figure 2), renamed SJEC in 2005.

On Page 72 of EW’s December 1997 issue are several pictures of Shanghai. In them, the number of tall buildings at Lujiazui, Pudong can be counted on one’s fingers (Figure 3). Pearl of the Orient Tower seems to be the only pioneer among its dwarf neighbors, while Jinmao Tower stands half-built. Compare this to the modern skyline, and one will

Figure 3: A spread for a 1997 article on Shanghai

Figure 4: The November 1997 cover featured the “Dragon Escalators” that take visitors to the top of the dam at Long Qing Xin Gorge.

see the amazing changes! Twenty years may be a quarter or so of a person’s lifetime, but it’s a brief moment for a changing city like Shanghai, and only a blip in the history of a nation or the world.

I had little time to look over issues of that year but happened to catch a glimpse of the cover of the November issue with the dragon escalators I photographed (Figure 4). Two decades ago, digital cameras were unknown. I almost ran out of film at the end of the trip and worried about possible exposure failure of the film on my way back.

A 1997 Holiday Season’s Greetings from the EW staff

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