Recalling the Joys of Stolen Elevator Rides in the 1930s

by Bill Newman


Growing up as a kid on Hawthorne Avenue in the 1930s, one of the ways we kids spent our free time was "riding elevators."

There were few houses built over four stories high in our neighborhood and there were no laws that compelled any builder of those tall building to include an elevator in a new building. As a result there were very few old buildings with elevators.

But elevators were usually found in the newer buildings.

On days when we were looking for something to do, we would seek out the buildings that had been built in recent years, or those few older buildings that we knew had elevators, and steal rides on those elevators.

The front doors to these apartment buildings were always locked to keep out strangers, so we would ring several bells and wait until someone buzzed us in.

Once inside, we would make a bee line for the elevator, climb aboard, and engage in riding up and down. Sometimes we would be caught and escorted out by a building manager after severe warnings about what would happen if we were caught again.

If we weren't caught, we would continue riding up and down until we grew tired of the game and then leave.

What fun we had riding those elevators. And what memories!


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