“Hello!  Welcome!”

3 minute read

March 9, 2017, 12:03 PM

You may recall from the Pittsburgh photo set that Elyse has an interest in elevators.  I find them interesting as well, though to a lesser extent than Elyse and others.  However, I always enjoy seeing an unusual specimen, like the pop-out buttons on the elevators at the Investment Building in Pittsburgh.

This elevator, at the United Office Building in Oxon Hill, takes the cake for interesting features.  Check it out:

Yes, it says, “Hello!” which is quickly followed by “Welcome!”  Elyse found this elevator about a month ago, and when she showed me her recording, I found it interesting enough to take a look for myself, for the message alone (the rest of the elevator is unremarkable).  I also imagine that, for the building occupants, like many things that we spend a lot of time around, after a while, you just don’t hear it anymore.

The rest of the elevator itself is unremarkable, other than the signs around it on the main level:

Elevator signage at the United Office Building

Elevator signage at the United Office Building

Yeah, those signs are obnoxious.

Otherwise, I’ve always loved talking elevators.  I remember the first time that I ever heard a talking elevator.  It was in 1991 at Old Main on the campus of the University of Arkansas.  My mother, sister, and I were all amazed to hear the elevator say, “Going up!” as well as, “Floor number two!”  It was such a novelty that we rode it all the way up and back down.  As it was 1991, I have no video of this, and I have no idea if the elevator still exists in this form.

My interest in talking elevators is such that when I’ve filmed elevators, it’s unusual voices, though this recent instance was the first time that I’d done so in a while.  I got these gems from a decade or so ago at various Metro stations:

North garage elevator at the Vienna Metro station, shown here on December 8, 2004.  I’ve heard this called the “thankful” elevator because it said “Thank you for using the Metrorail!” at every level.  Thus going up to the top of the garage, it would thank you four times.  Unfortunately, the last time I was there in December 2016, it was no longer thanking riders at every level.

In mid-2005, the Vienna north garage elevator was not only thanking people, but for whatever reason, it was in fire service mode, saying, along with its regular messages, “This elevator is needed because of an emergency.  Please exit the elevator when the doors open.”

Cleveland Park station used to have a very unique announcement that was different depending on where you boarded.  At street level, shown here, it said, “Welcome to Metrorail.  This is the Cleveland Park station.  Please give priority to handicapped and disabled persons before boarding the elevator.  Thank you.  Going down.”  I’ll bet that this was an early version of the message at Vienna, which was deployed far more widely throughout the system.  It surprised me that it said “handicapped” as part of its message, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I filmed this.

Same Cleveland Park street elevator, filmed the same day, i.e. November 9, 2005, but going up.  Now, the message states, “Welcome to Cleveland Park, mezzanine level.  Going up!”

I have many more recordings of Metro elevator announcements, but the rest are the standard, “Welcome to the [name] station.  Please give priority to seniors and persons with disabilities before using this elevator.  Thank you.  Going [up/down].”

But I’m always interested in hearing a unique elevator voice.  I still remember when Elyse took me to the children’s section of Johns Hopkins Hospital when we went to Baltimore in 2014.  In that case, the elevators had children’s voices making all of the announcements.  It was unusual, for sure, but unfortunately, I didn’t get a recording of it.  We’ll have to go back some time and get one.