Friday, August 8, 2014

Early 20th Century Etiquette Rules for Elevators or Lifts

Art deco design of the Empire State Building elevator doors
"When a man passes a lady on a staircase, in the corridor of a hotel, in the elevator of a private apartment house, or in the public rooms of a hotel, he lifts his hat although she may be a stranger. This rule does not prevail on the staircases and in the corridors of office buildings, with the exception, perhaps, of banks and such offices as people of wealth frequent; for a new fineness of courtesy has made men feel that, as women are winning an equality of position in the business field, a delicate way of recognizing that equality is by giving them a comradely deference rather than paying them the social attentions." From Edith Ordwy's "Etiquette of To-Day" 1918
"A new fineness of courtesy has made men feel that, as women are winning an equality of position in the business field, a delicate way of recognizing that equality is by giving them a comradely deference rather than paying them the social attentions." Dr. Meredith Grey is lost in the hospital.
 "Authorities are divided on the subject of elevator etiquette, some denouncing in round terms the man who is so rude as to keep his hat on in an elevator where there are ladies; arguing that the elevator is a "little room," an "interior," not a thoroughfare. Others are equally emphatic in asserting that the elevator is a thoroughfare, merely; and that hats are not to be removed, except under the same conditions that would call for their removal in the street--as the greeting of acquaintances, or the exchange of civilities.  
The good sense of this view is apparent. A hat held in the hand in a crowded elevator is sure to be in the way, and liable to be crushed. A gentleman who wishes to compromise between stolid ignoring of the ladies who are strangers, and superfluous recognition of their presence, may lift his hat and replace it immediately, when a lady enters the elevator, or when he enters an elevator where ladies already are. Such a courtesy differs from a greeting in this: a stranger offering this elevator civility does not look at the lady, nor does he bend his head; and his lifted hat is an impersonal tribute to the sex. A lady makes no response to such a courtesy; yet there is in her general bearing a subtle something, hard to describe, but which every gentleman will readily recognize, that shows whether or not she observes and appreciates his little act of deference. The atmosphere of good manners may be as invisible as the air about us; but we know when we are breathing it." From "Etiquette" by Agnes H. Morton, 1919

"A gentleman takes off his hat and holds it in his hand when a lady enters the elevator in which he is a passenger, but he puts it on again in the corridor. A public corridor is like the street, but an elevator is suggestive of a room, and a gentleman does not keep his hat on in the presence of ladies in a house. This is the rule in elevators in hotels, clubs and apartments. In office buildings and stores the elevator is considered as public a place as the corridor. What is more, the elevators in such business structures are usually so crowded that the only room for a man's hat is on his head. But even under these conditions a gentleman can reveal his innate respect for women by not permitting himself to be crowded too near to them." From "Etiquette" Emily Post, 1922
Original lift door from Selfridge's in London.
"In one of the oldest banks in New York each boy who enters is given a few days' intensive training by a gentleman chosen for the purpose. The instructor stresses the fundamentals of character and, above all things, going in front of a person when there is room to go around him, not pushing into an elevator ahead of every common sense. Courtesy is rarely discussed as a separate quality but simple instructions are given about not one else, not speaking to a man at a desk until he has signified that he is ready, and about sustaining quiet and orderly behavior everywhere. The atmosphere in the bank is the kind that encourages gentlemanly conduct and the new boys either fall in with it or else get out and go somewhere else." From The Book of Business Etiquette 1922, Author Unknown 
Is he expecting a dollar or a quarter?
On Tipping  the "Elevator Starter"
"A long-time guest in a hotel usually tips the elevator starter fifty cents or more on leaving if he has been helpful and another quarter or more to elevator men who have served him.  A resident in a hotel tips the elevator men regularly serving him a dollar a month approximately and remembers the starter, too, at regular intervals."  From 1957's "Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette"