When Mark Twain visited Montreal in 1881, he said that it was the first time he’d ever been in a city “where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window.” Montreal, you see, has lots of churches.
Twain was then told, however, that the city would soon build another church – and perhaps another, and another – and “I said the scheme is good,” Twain responded, “but where are you going to find room? They said, we will build it on top of another church and use an elevator.”
Church of God, Elevator.
Does this off-the-cuff remark from a 19th century novelist exhibit a more adventurous sense of space and structure than the buildings which pass for architectural design today?
In any case, all of this reminds me of a post here on BLDGBLOG last summer in which it was proposed that “elevators could be used as prayer chapels – vertically nomadic radial spaces in which the pious… could spend time alone and think.”
Paraphrasing myself, then, a year later, could you construct an earthless Vatican made of nothing but elevators riding up and down throughout the atmosphere? Off in the urban distance you see what surely must be a mirage: a glass and steel cathedral hovering two miles off the surface of the earth, made of nothing but elevator-chapels, a metallic mist of lifts, a sky-cloud of holy space in western sunlight.
From earth to the moon, on the Sistine Elevator.
(Twain quotation found thanks to an anonymous commenter on this post this morning).