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Riding the First Elevators Required Act of Faith

You have undoubtedly been on an elevator that bears his name. Otis elevators have been the industry standard for more than 150 years. While Elisha Otis did not invent the elevator, he did devise the braking system that ensured its safety. At the time, most elevators were little more than open platforms, and they'd come apart and people would be seriously injured if the cable broke. And without a trustworthy braking system, elevators were earthbound and building heights were limited to a mere six stories. With it, the sky was the limit. The braking system for elevators made modern skyscrapers possible.

But initially Elisha Otis had trouble selling his elevators, until 1854 when he concocted a creative sales pitch at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in Manhattan. Every hour at the exposition, the World's Fair of its day, Otis stepped into his machine. He gave the order to an assistant who cut the rope. The crowd held its breath. The brake kicked in, the elevator stopped and Otis announced: "All safe, gentlemen. All safe."

With this demonstration, Otis quickly sold his first three elevators for $300 apiece. Today, New York City alone has about 70,000 elevators, and it's estimated that the equivalent of the world's population travels on an Otis elevator, escalator, or moving walkway every three days.

Possible Preaching Angles: Faith; Trust; Belief—This story shows the critical difference between knowing about something or someone and putting your faith in something or someone.

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