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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY

OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY

The OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY can trace its origins to 1853, when Elisa Graves Otis introduced the first safety passenger elevator at the Crystal Palace Convention in New York City. His invention impressed spectators at the convention, and the first passenger elevator was installed in New York City in 1856.

Following the death of Elisha Otis in 1861, the company passed to his sons, Charles R. and Norton P. Otis. In 1867, the brothers incorporated their company under the name Otis Brothers & Co. and began marketing their hoisting machinery nationwide. The Cleveland agent at the time was W.H. Sholl.

In 1898, the company became known as the Otis Elevator Company. By the turn of the century, the company had introduced electric elevators and escalators to its product line. Around this time, Otis Elevator began winning contracts to supply elevators for new buildings in Cleveland, Ohio. These included: the ROCKEFELLER BUILDING (1904), the EUCLID ARCADE (1911), CLEVELAND UNION STATION (1925), and the Hanna Building (1948).

In 1917, Otis Elevator moved to a new, two-story building at 1373 East 6th Street, which cost $70,000. The company remained at this location until the 1950s, when its operations were moved to a building at 1744 Payne Avenue.

In the 1950s, Otis Elevator began diversifying its product offerings. In 1954, the company purchased the BAKER-RAULANG COMPANY in Cleveland to produce fork lifts and trucks. In 1970, Otis Elevator purchased Cleveland’s EUCLID CRANE & HOIST COMPANY and started the Otis Crane Systems Division. The crane division was more successful than the fork lift manufactory, and the Otis Baker division was disbanded in 1975.

In 1975, the Otis Elevator Company became a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). In 2015, Otis Elevator remained a part of UTC, and was known as the world leader in the elevators, escalators, and moving walkways. Otis continued to operate a branch in Cleveland, Ohio, at 9800 Rockside Road.

 

Jennifer Graham, Western Reserve Historical Society

Sources:
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Otis Elevator 
Elisha Graves Otis, 1811-1861, and His Influence Upon Vertical Transportation by L.A. Petersen (1945)
The First 100 Years… by Otis Elevator Company (1953)