Skyscrapers wouldn't exist without prime invention

How technology, land prices conspired to change history

For centuries, the drudgery of having to climb long flights of stairs ensured that few buildings were more than four or five stories high. Even at that, the least desirable dwellings were usually those on the top floor — just the opposite of our modern preference. This idea held true until the late 19th century, when elevators began to appear in multistory buildings.