history of the stairs

http://www.timhunkin.com/a119_francis_evans.htmStairs really are a useful invention. One has only to recall how laborious the undertaking must have been which saw our predecessors clawing their way up a lengthened inclined plane in order to appreciate our modern cornucopia of ascension options. But the stairs really take the cake in terms of simplicity, versatility, and ease of use. So where did it all begin?

The Internet is supposed to have the answers to all of life’s questions, but it’s painfully devoid of answers to the question of who invented the staircase. My best guess places the invention of stairs not long after the appropriation of the first reusable outdoor waste site, the invention being made in order to build taller structures and escape the odious fumes. Oliver Herford shared my admiration for the creator of that household fixture which we have all come to love:

Here’s to the man who invented stairs
And taught our feet to soar!
He was the first who ever burst
Into a second floor.
The world would be downstairs to-day
Had he not found the key;
So let his name go down to fame,
Whatever it may be.

But perhaps I should leave this one up to the professionals. The cross-referenced research presented at this site clearly relates the history of stairs and goes on to discuss their association with the White House:

Stairs have become such a commonplace fixture in contemporary architecture that it is easy to forget that they were not invented until 1948, by Swiss architect Werner Bösendörfer. Prior to the advent of stairs (or “stairsteppes,” as they were originally called), most people moved between building levels using ramps or ladders.

When making a world-changing invention, it’s important to do it big, and it seems we all have Werner Bösendörfer to thank for doing it so big.

20 thoughts on “history of the stairs

  1. 1948?! thats the biggest load of shit. there where stairs way before that, think of the myan temples, they have steps.

  2. If I know any one thing, it is to believe everything I read on the internet.

    You would be a madman to try and nitpick everything you read, and try to decipher truth even when arguments blatantly contradict.

    I guess you didn’t know that growing up, your grandparents never had stairs. They had to rely on the majestic art of levitation.

  3. i hate you all, especially you walt. btw, you need to come reset our internets so black people dont stealz it.

  4. Here’s my theory of who invented the stairs.

    It had to have been someone who lived as far back as the caveman days. Lets say a caveman saw an animal on a hill that had rocks on it that he wanted to kill for food. To get up the hill easier he uses these rocks as stepping stones. May not have been actual stairs but it’s the same concept. You’re still stepping on something else to get higher up.

  5. I was born in 1951, when stairs were still quite a new idea. Personally I had never seen any, because our little house was on two levels, with only one short ramp rising just eight or nine inches from the hallway up to the living room. But stairs caught on very quickly after that, and by the time I was about 3, I remember noticing that many, many buildings had them.

  6. Many monuments have steps stairs? Oh and plus I’m pretty sure pirate ships had stairs I’m also 100% sure in 1909 when the titanic was built they had stairs? So if your going to put a fact on the Internet do your reasearch!

  7. Jake,
    You raise some good points. I will certainly research these facts further, but for now I have to go with my original source, since it provides a verified and reliable bibliography.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I think stairs have been around since caveman, but who was the fist person to name them “stairs.” Can any one tell me this?

  9. Jen,
    Merriam-Webster would trace the etymology of “stairs” as follows:
    Middle English steir, from Old English stǣger; akin to Old English & Old High German stīgan to rise, Greek steichein to walk
    First Known Use: before 12th century

    Of course, if you’d read the article you’d know that the first person to use this term as we know it was Werner Bösendörfer.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I just stumbled upon this website when researching when stairs were invented. Now, the author of this site claims that stairs were invented in 1948. He/she said, “they were not invented until 1948, by Swiss architect Werner Bösendörfer.” The article goes on to say that before stairs people used ramps, ladders, and stairsteppes (as they were originally called.) As many of the other commenters have realized, this is false. Stairs have been around for far longer than 1948. Just because they were not called stairs in the beginning, that doesn’t mean they were not stairs. Bösendörfer did not invent the stairs, he simply reintroduced the idea. Another source, theodysseyonline.com, states, “Although stairs have been around for centuries, they were not always a common fixture inside of a home or building. It wasn’t unti 1948 that Swiss architect, Werner Bösendörfer, had the idea to put stairs or “stairsteppes” in place of ramps and ladders.” Therefore, stairs were not invented in 1948, they were just introduced to common places where they weren’t before.

  11. Spot on! How the internet can corrupt the mind. It is like the written word. King James edition anyone?

  12. Hmm … so my Philadephia rowhome (and many, many others) which was built around 1916 with 3 floors, didn’t have stairs? Sorry, dude. You missed the mark, here. It MAY be true that in many places, ladders/ramps WERE the only options, i.e., on ships, where staircases are STILL called “ladders.” But the old Philly houses did indeed have steps, stairs, and stoops, as well.

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