Stairs 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.