Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Miles

By Johnice Woods, Director of Projects

As many of you know or may not know, the month of February is deemed Black History Month. Black History Month was established in 1936 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves and a renowned scholar from Harvard. The purpose of Black History Month is to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions to America by Black citizens.

One of my fondest memories as a child is when my mother, who was a student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, took me on campus to attend a play entitled, “A Day in a Life without Black Inventions”. I was so intrigued to learn about so many inventions created by Black Americans. I am reminded daily of one of those inventions as I walk into CityWalk each day.

Currently, our elevators are operated manually at 511 N. Akard. This meaning, you just can’t call an elevator in the lobby and select your floor. Someone has to take you to your destination throughout the building by turning a key inside the cab.

So why this story? An African-American of the late 19th century by the name of Alexander Miles was a contributor to the elevator industry still used today. Mr. Miles invented the mechanism that allowed an elevator to open and close automatically when the elevator was not on the floor. He also invented a device that allowed a door to close automatically to the elevator shaft. Before this invention, operators or users would have to manually close a door to cut off access to the elevator shaft. Often people would forget to close the door, which caused accidents of people falling down elevator shafts.

So, when the CityWalk elevators become fully renovated and I am able to call for my cab, I will remember to thank Mr. Alexander Miles for his wise and useful invention.

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