Gamla Riksarkivet Lift – Stockholm, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

Stockholm, Sweden

Gamla Riksarkivet Lift

Sweden's first electric elevator remains hidden within a fortress-like building. 

These days, elevators are a staple of life in many societies. However, when they were first invented, they were hyper-modern, futuristic devices only available to the rich. The elevator in Stockholm’s old National Archive Building (Gamla Riksarkivet) is a good example of such a device. 

The building, which was completed in 1890, was by all accounts a safety fortress. The building was made out of a combination of sandstone and a cast iron skeleton. There was also a complete ban on electricity inside the building for fear of it causing fires, hence the large windows that let in as much natural light as possible. 

The elevator was installed when the building was first constructed, and originally ran on water pressure. It required so much water that the entire city block would lose water pressure when the elevator was in use, which is why it was used sparingly.

After the building finally gained electricity five years after its completion, the elevator became the first electric elevator in Sweden. It remained in regular use until 1968, when the archive moved to a larger and more secure location. 

Since the 1960s, the building has been used for various things. Today, it mainly serves as office space and a Christmas dining location during the holiday season. The elevator is still functional, but is generally not in use due to safety concerns.  

Know Before You Go

The elevator is currently on display on the first floor of the building in the room that is used as a gift shop. During the holiday season, when the restaurant is open, it is possible to see it for free or during dinner. Just say that you want to see the gift shop and then ask for the elevator. Outside of this time you may need to make an appointment, as it is not typically open to the public.

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