On August 9, 1859, the first patent ever issued on a moving stairway, what today we would call an escalator, was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to Nathan Ames. Figure 1 (left) shows a perspective view of the double parallel arrangement of stairs, with two flights of stairs side by side. Figure 3 (below) shows a side view of a triangular arrangement where both an ascending and descending flight of stairs are attached to an endless belt.
The Ames escalator, or “revolving stairs” as he called it, would never be built.
U.S. Patent No. 25,076 began:
To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I, Nathan Ames, of Saugus, in the county of Essex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Stairs, which I call Revolving Stairs; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description of the construction and operation of the same, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part of these specification…
The patent text is two full pages, which is rather long for the day, concludes with five patent claims:
- Arranging steps, or stairs, upon an endless belt, or in any manner equivalent, and placing them over rollers substantially as described, so as to form a revolving flight of stairs which may be used both as a common blight and as an elevator.
- The triangular arrangement of the stairs as shown substantially in Fig. 3, whereby an endless flight is made to pass around three rollers, B,D,D, for purpose described.
- The double parallel arrangement, as shown substantially in Figs. 1 and 3, whereby ascending and descending flights are placed side by side.
- The use of auxiliary stationary steps or stairs, to operate in connection with the revolving stairs, substantially as, and for the purpose, set forth.
- The employment, or use, of rods, or slots to operate in connection with the slotted stairs, substantially as described and for the objects specified.