Which came first, the elevator or the elevator shaft? While this may seem a bit like the old chicken or the egg question, it isn’t. The elevator shaft came first. In 1852, Peter Cooper began construction of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art bear Astor Place and Third Avenue in New York City. Included in Cooper’s design for the building was an elevator shaft. When Cooper began building his Union building a working elevator had yet to be invented but he was absolutely convinced that a safe elevator would be invented eventually. His confidence was not misplaced because on the 23rd of March, in 1853, at 488 Broadway, also in Manhattan, Elisha Otis (pictured) installed the first elevator designed to not suddenly plummet to the basement if its cable should snap. I am puzzled as to why Otis called his innovation a safety elevator.