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Are there still any elevator operators in Boston?

If not, who was the last?

What memories and locations come to mind.

"Asking for someone!"

Thanx.

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Comments

steamed decades later that spellcheck technology gutted my budding career as a professional speller. I was a high-school junior. My prep consisted of looking at the family dictionary list of commonly-misspelled words for five minutes (probably would have missed "supersede" otherwise: only word in English that ends in "sede".) I smashed the old record on the score, still have the very unprepossessing trophy.

As I am here, you can tell I resisted the urge to smash the machines. (It was worth it for all the spelling groupies.)

The closest I've ever come to that old tiny glory was a drunken spelling bee at a Union Square Somerville bar, circa 2001, where I'd run into a couple of beloved bartenders on their night off. We had a few pops, and they convinced me to join the fray at the last second. It came down to ten grueling rounds between me and some lovely 20-something hipster woman, both of us either correct or wrong on the same word. She finally beat me on "caliginous", a word I've never encountered before or since except as part of an insult by the Wizard of Oz to the Tin Man.

My second-choice career has put me in nice to very-fancy hotels in about 40 US states and 80 countries around the world, and not one of them had an elevator operator, alas. How could they ever remake The Apartment these days? I suppose the Shirley MacLaine character would have to be an IT geek.

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I remember the old ritz, Jordan marsh annex building and the Suffolk county courthouse being manned by elevator operators.

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that this long screed was going to culminate in a criticism of the use of "Thanx" by Adam. Though that seems to actually be in the dictionary as an informal definition.

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of the modern age, but I've become enured to most of them. I hold the line of opprobrium for a few.

I actively despise Bitmojis, those weird cartoony avatars of real people, for their uncanny-valley artifice, their bad-boardwalk-airbrush-caricature quality. Sorta looks a little like you, but it's so creepy, basic and lame. You're only allowed if you're an elderly maiden aunt with more than six cats.

I also loathe "LOL" because most of the time its users clearly have nothing worth laughing out loud about, and they use it for *everything*, no matter how fucking dad-joke useless.

In that same vein, I throw up a little in my mouth every time someone finishes a post with emojis indicating laughter, or worse, crying laughter. Those should be reserved for other people reacting to your post as funny. When you do it, it's like going "HAR HAR HAR! GET IT? GET IT?!!!" with repeated elbow jabs, all in the service of your ghastly, pitiable non-humor: always painful. Never congratulate yourself in public as remotely amusing, you sorry hump.

In that context, "Thanx" is a venial sin, a Hail Mary or two at best. In my mind, there's a fiery lower circle of hell awaiting the rest.

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in my high school yearbook in the early '80s, when seemingly all of my classmates included the phrase "Thanx Mom & Dad." At the time I imaged the moms and dads being annoyed. "We sent you to the best school in the state and this is how you repay us?"

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.... please!
Whenever anyone uses that old cliché, “ throw up a little in my mouth “ I actually gag.

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Thank Bill Parcells for that line.

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was used by the OP, not Adam.

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I was expecting tree fiddy or Hell in a Cell.

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The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge has a wonderful antique elevator that requires a licensed elevator operator to run it. They don't have a dedicated operator, but the personnel at the front desk are all licensed, and they will come on request for the first floor, or on call for the upper floors.

There is also an automatic, self-service elevator in an entirely different portion of the building. Both of them offer access to all of the public floors.

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One of the last was at the old MDC building on BEACON. The same elevator operator was working into the 1990s, when I believe the building was closed and eventually demolished, also in the 1990s. The only other elevator operator I ever saw was in Worcester around 1960.

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Beacon Hill. And I didn't realize there were as many recent elevator operators has people recall here.

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I remember in 1987 to about 1990 that the Pemberton Square Courthouse (now the John Adams Courthouse) had them when I would go up to the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds on the fifth floor.

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Recall the white gloved operators at the old ritz and who could forget the operators at the annex building at Jordan Marsh

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As of four years ago or so 109 Kingston St. in Chinatown still had somebody working the elevator.

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The building I worked in at Harrison and Beach had an elevator operator well into the 90s.

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Can vouch for this, forget why I was there but had to take a selfie at the time, no one was working the elevator though. Looked dangerous but vintage

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Going...down?

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just... ew

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I post an Aerosmith reference, and I'm losing an upvote. Turn in your Bostonian cards, you schmucks.

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The North Station parking garage elevator used to (maybe still does?) say "this car is going DOWN" in an oh-so-special way:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCVL9r3rqwk

I can't find where Adam posted it to UHub though, but his comment is still on the video.

Also, why have so many people watched a video of an elevator shot on a shitty 2007 flip phone?

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When I think of elevator operators I always think of an older African American lady who worked an elevator in Jordan Marsh. There were a lot of elevators there but, if I recall, only one (or one left) of the old style with the grate that had to be opened and closed. She was an institution who seemed to have been there from the very first time I went into Jordan's (in the mid 1960s) to the last (whenever it finally closed). She always wore one white glove.

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If you have ever had to deliver to the offices in the Hancock and Prudential towers, then you have definitely dealt with elevator operators.

You may be specifically asking about guest or resident-facing elevator operators, but I am here to say that there are security personnel that run the service elevators in many of Boston’s most popular office towers.

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elevator operators, only ground-floor elevator gatekeepers and traffic directors.

An elevator operator rides the box, manipulating the controls that take it to each floor, an actual manual, vertical driving skill in the days of pre-automatic elevators, or pressing the buttons in an automatic elevator on your behalf. Canonically, they have a uniform like a marching-band trombonist, all braid and epaulets, crowned with a matching round, short, brimless, flat-topped cap. Casual, fast-paced banter using the latest wiggedy-wig hepcat slang is optional but welcome with your regulars.

If you're a rider with manners, you'll doff your hat and hold the locker-room talk if a lady is present, lest Don Draper glare at you, snatch it off your head, and shove it, crumpled, into your rude-ass hands, a tacit punch awaiting you if you try to brace him.

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As there ARE operators (or there were in the 90's when I was a bike courier) in the freigh elevators of the Pru - surly dude would sit on a banged up old office chair and push the buttons for you... for reasons I could not fathom, but they were present.

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the pru and most of the large buildings with freight elevators still have operators. the guy that used to be at the pru (or maybe 101 huntington?) that guy was a trip. him sitting in there with his AM radio and lunchpail were like going back in time.

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(My bad. I totally meant the service elevators accessed through the garages.)

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Jordan Marsh to the Toy Floor is the last location I remember with actual elevator operators. It's Macy's now and the building with the seasonal Toy Floor has been torn down.

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I remember that building’s old elevator system, too! It always gave an abrupt up and down bounce when the elevator operator stopped the car at the chosen floor! I remember getting “butterflies in the stomach” every time! I seem to remember the operator calling out the names of departments and items to be found on each floor.

The old Ritz Carlton at the corner of Arlington and Newbury Streets had a long time elevator operator named George, who was a friendly old gent. I remember him from as late as the 1990s. The elevator was always so nicely scented, too.

My ophthalmologist on Commonwealth Ave. had a self-service French style elevator in a cage that allowed you to see what surrounded the elevator during the ascent to his floor, including the cables. I was always afraid they’d snap and we would plunge into the abyss.

I love certain things from “the olden days” like those wonderful old elevators. The city’s department stores, hotels and restaurants had a lovely, old elegance about them. Sigh...

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Good question.
I did some googling of the union angle. Elevator operators are still listed under 32BJ SEIU, though no specifics of how many.
.
I'm drawing a blank on Boston for actual in-cab operators, as opposed to security/lobby remote control. I suppose some of the older medium-large office buildings, hotels, and stores - anything that hasn't been updated recently - might be a candidate.
Branching out a bit... I was at a family wedding at the Mountain View Grand in NH a few years ago - they had a cage-door, operator elevator (I think it even was the old lever style, not pushbutton).

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I believe you are thinking about the Mt. Washington Hotel, not the Mt. View Grand?

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https://www.mountainviewgrand.com/ in Whitefield.

I have no idea about Mt Washington, other than that neither my car nor I has ever climbed it.

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Just looked it up, did not know the Mountain View Grand had an elevator like that. I believe it is used to go to the downstairs room where there is a separate bar/function room which I had never used.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgzhs9KwfL8

This was the one I was thinking of:

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You don't have to climb the mountain to get to the Mount Washington Hotel. It's right on Route 302.

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found a photo on some blog...
supposedly oldest operating elevator in NH.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/Y87AMSkx7aAb96_FL5SQ5Ma-VMT12W6l...

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As I recall, the Ritz Carlton had elevator operators at least into the mid-90s, but I haven't been there since.

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The freight elevators at One beacon street have operators. I did some contract work cataloging and packing HP equipment at the Jp morgan chase offices last year and when we had to use the freight elevators to move between floors there was always a guy in a chair reading the newspaper. The elevator wouldn't go anywhere if no one was there.

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There was an elevator operator at 229 Berkeley St which was always weird because it was a tiny building with a tiny elevator that the operator's presence just about filled up so you could barely get in there too. I assume the operator served a double role as building maintenance because I can't imagine there was much to do all day.

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I remember Strawberries in DTX had an elevator operator well into the 80s, maybe even early 90s.

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i got jumped in that elevator. a couple of times.

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There are loads of elevator operators working in Boston.

They work on construction sites though, operating elevators for materials and workers, not the general public.

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semi circular elevator is still in operation.

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When I was very small, The Boston Athenaeum at 10 1/2 Beacon Street had a guy operating a tiny elevator, half the size it is today, maybe because in itself it was an antique, with carved wooden paneling, protruding metal buttons - like operating a toy, only I couldn't because he was there! Even today, the little stool in the (modern) elevator reminds me of him. But now its all DIY, you even have to hang your own coat up in the lobby.

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The building at 109 Kingston off Chinatown had manual operators. The building was only about 4 or 5 floors, as old as the ghostbusters HQ, with a basement right out of SAW and they were always annoyed if you didn’t use the stairs.

Naturally working on the higher floor I had to endure the annoyed look from them each morning, though I spared them going down.

Eventually moved out and never looked back at that place I’d come into mice detritus most mornings, so unsure of the state today but imagine they’re still working it.

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My friends had an office here on the 4th (i think) floor through the late aughts and you had to hope the operator was around if you needed to take things up in the elevator. You had to take the stairs after 5.

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That was the last commercial building to have manual elevator operation until about 2004-2005. 250 Boylston had it until conversion to residential in 2000.

Some residential buildings on Beacon Hill and the Back Bay had manual operation into the mid-90's and may still; 301 Berkeley, 68 Beacon, and 172 Beacon Street. All of those buildings are Co-ops too.

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And probably TD Garden too. Can't have people pushing their own buttons on gameday, it would be chaos. Would have been, I should say.

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had volunteers operating what would normally be a freight elevator. I greatly appreciated this service since I was recovering from a leg injury and walking with a cane.

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I wouldn't call those folks "elevator operators," exactly - they are part of the volunteer team who help run the event. But yes, it's nice that they're there! My knees aren't up to those steep stairs any more.

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the internal elevators at MGH used to transport patients to and from the operating rooms have elevator operators pushing the floor buttons. In my experience there's no snappy uniform, funny patter or jokes, and they do their best to avoid eye contact.

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There are elevator operators in many of the downtown commercial buildings (1 Beacon, International Place, 100 High, Prudential) for the freight elevators and a lot of them are quite the characters.

Not sure if studies have been done on the correlation between vertigo and sleepiness, but a lot of the times the elevator car arrives after waiting on the ground floor for 15+ minutes and the operator is in a very deep sleep in his office chair

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I got stuck on one in the braintree mall once it stopped as I was halfway up, a nice person yelled up to me.."They are now stairs"...terrifying :)

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Hedberg called. You owe him 15 cents.

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I'll still send his estate a dollar :P

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You wish they had escalator operator's what?

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It doesn't always work.

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Tongue swapping with my now hubby when a voice came over the loudspeaker asking "is everything ok in there?" I wasn't the smooth operator I thought I was...

I feel like Liberty Mutual corp office on Berkeley St had elevator operators in mid 90's...

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While working as a stock boy at Jordan Marsh we had access to the freight elevators sometimes and some of them were manually operated. I remember being assigned to do some trash clean up and to pile up leftover items that no one knew what to do with one weekend. It was one of the JM annex buildings and only the first floor was retail. The upper floors were stock spaces and junk spaces for the rest of the operation. A front stairwell had been cut off long before modern fire codes required otherwise, and the lone back stairwell was alarmed. So if you were assigned to a floor with only freight elevator access you needed someone to get you there and pick you up, and hopefully remembered you were there. I did get stuck there for an hour until someone picked me up one day. Other times I had the elevator to myself and was alone a few times and kept the car with me on the floor I was assigned until someone started ringing for it. I eventually rationalized this was not safe and got assigned elsewhere.

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That's just plain stupid. They should have put in a louder elevator call bell, or turned off the stairwell alarm.

If I got stuck waiting for someone to get me with the elevator, I'd just use the alarmed stairwell. If someone tried to get me in trouble for setting off the alarm, well, that would be my chance to let them hear it about leaving me trapped.

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They have them for the freight elevator, not sure if that is true for all of them.

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MIT has plenty of freight elevators which you have to drive with "up" and "down" buttons, line it up with the floor level, and open the doors manually. But in true MIT fashion, you're trusted to do it yourself, and there's no operator.

Out in the real world, I've been criticized for using wheelchair lifts myself, without finding the theoretical employee who was supposed to do it for you.

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There's an office building on Bromfield street that still has an old-timey elevator with an operator, metal gate, cool operating lever and all.

If you access the building out of normal office hours, the stairs are your only option!

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The Agganis Arena at Boston University have students staffing the elevators to the underground garage during events. They basically push the buttons. Thankfully they have seats to sit on and they are not stuck in there for the entirety of the event, working in shifts. So, in that case the answer would be March 2020.

Back in the early 1980s, I was involved with groups associated with the Dorchester Federated Houses. I believe I was told by one kid that the elevator in the building they used in Uphams Corner (the Masonic Hall?) had a manual elevator, but remember, this is a memory from over 35 years ago.

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The Opera House has elevator attendants.

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Sometimes the ICA museum has a person operating the giant see though elevator.

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As a courier in the 90s there were three I came across. One on Berkeley St. the other on Beacon Hill, Park St. I think, and the South St one mentioned above.
Of course freight elevator operators are still common but the public doesn't see them. Nor does the elevator need them to operate.

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The elevators to the balcony and the premium seats have elevator operators. Also the elevators from the parking garage to the Agannis Arena.

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TD Garden opened in 1995, Agganis in 2005

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Modern tech.
In this case "operators" aren't necessary so much for the operation of the elevator as being ushers to facilitate the movement of people to the right places for the operation of the facility.

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Yes! There is still an old-timey elevator in operation on Bromfield street in an office building. There’s an operator, metal gate, and cool lever control and all. If you access the building after the operator’s working hours, you’re stuck with the stairs!

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Excellent, we finally have an answer!

Do you remember which end of Bromfield, or anything else to identify the building? Is it generally accessible, or do you need to convince the operator that you have business in the building?

Bromfield is a great street. I love poking around the pawn shops.

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36 Bromfield!
It’s mostly offices, but there’s a tailoring business too, so it’s not strange for pedestrians to come in and out.
Not sure what the covid arrangements are for the elevator right now.
Enjoy.

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The Wang Theatre (Boch center now???) has an old crank elevator. One of the usher staff operates it. When I used to work there we were all trained because there are 8 floors and that's the only elevator to get to all the floors!! At one point I regularly worked on the 7th floor and always had to walk up because if I took the elevator, then the elevator would be "trapped' there until I decided to come down and no one else could use it. (no automatic re-call to another floor).

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