Behind the dearth of elevators in the country that birthed the skyscraper are eye-watering costs. A basic four-stop elevator costs about $158,000 in New York City, compared with about $36,000 in Switzerland. A six-stop model will set you back more than three times as much in Pennsylvania as in Belgium. Maintenance, repairs, and inspections all cost more in America too.

The first thing to notice about our elevators is that, like many things in America, they are huge. New elevators outside the U.S. are typically sized to accommodate a person in a large wheelchair plus somebody standing behind them. American elevators have ballooned to about twice that size, driven by a drip-drip-drip of regulations, each motivated by a slightly different concern — first accessibility, then accommodation for ambulance stretchers, then even bigger stretchers.

Here is much more from Stephen Smith in the NYT.

Keep reading this article on Marginal Revolution.

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