Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27, 1914 -- Fine Arts Free Fall

April 27, 1914 -- Whatever goes up must come down. Usually. That proves true enough in the Fine Arts building on this date as elevator operator Louis Rosenfeld lets in a few more people than wisdom would dictate -- 16 to be exact in a car rated for a dozen. Two women and two men squeeze into the elevator, already crowded with students and teachers from the upper floors. As it begins to descend a cable snaps and roars down the shaft, slamming into the roof of the car. From there it snakes through the front of the car, striking several passengers. No one can move since the elevator is so crowded. Two women faint and the car stops a few feet from the bottom of the shaft as the emergency brakes take hold. The roar of the calamity can be heard on Michigan Avenue, and the entire building shakes.  The top of the car stops a few feet above the level of the first floor, and those rushing to help, including the manager of the Studebaker Theater, are able to pry the doors open and lift the passengers to safety. Fortunately, no one is seriously injured, but if I had been in the car, I might have given a considerable amount of thought totaking the stairs from then on.

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