A set of lifts in the lower level of a London
Underground station. The arrows indicate
each lift’s position and direction of travel.
The lift on the right shows its doors on either
side of the car to serve different floors.
A wire-cage lift circa 1895
An elevator or lift is a vertical transport
vehicle that efficiently moves people or goods
between floors of a building. They are gener-
ally powered by electric motors that either
Observatory Elevator Structure with trans-
parent glass walls exposing the internal
Double deck observatory elevators, with a
drive traction cables and counterweight sys-
tems, or pump hydraulic fluid to raise a cyl-
Languages other than English may have
loanwords based on either elevator (e.g.,
Japanese) or lift (e.g., Cantonese).
Because of wheelchair access laws, elevat-
ors are often a legal requirement in new
wheelchair ramps would be impractical.
Lifts began as simple rope or chain hoists. A
lift is essentially a platform that is either
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pulled or pushed up by a mechanical means.
A modern day lift consists of a cab (also
called a "cage" or "car") mounted on a plat-
form within an enclosed space called a shaft
or sometimes a "hoistway". In the past, lift
drive mechanisms were powered by steam
and water hydraulic pistons. In a "traction"
lift, cars are pulled up by means of rolling
steel ropes over a deeply grooved pulley,
commonly called a sheave in the industry.
The weight of the car is balanced with a
counterweight. Sometimes two lifts always
move synchronously in opposite directions,
and they are each other’s counterweight.
The friction between the ropes and the
pulley furnishes the traction which gives this
type of lift its name.
For more details on this topic, see #Traction
Hydraulic lift use the principles of hydraulics
(in the sense of hydraulic power) to pressur-
ize an above ground or in-ground piston to
raise and lower the car