In 2009, Ben Ripstein launched Midwest Motors Inc., an auto dealership with a comprehensive selection of vehicles, including luxury, exotic, and classic cars. A focal point of the multilevel dealership is a unique working birdcage elevator, an original feature of the furniture store that that was there before Ben Ripstein repurposed the building.
In the late 1880s and early 1900s, Otis Lifts, regarded as the world’s largest elevator manufacturer, introduced a birdcage elevator. Innovative in style and system, the birdcage lift was the company’s first safety elevator powered by electricity. Prior to this model, water or steam served as the power source of Otis lifts. This new electric elevator operated with a manual handle system.
The descriptor “birdcage” comes from the 360 degree view the lift offers its passengers. Typically made of metal, birdcage cars may be either round or square in shape, and are characterized by their highly ornate, art nouveau style. Newer birdcage elevators have the addition of glass panels in the enclosure to provide extra safety.