There are many truly amazing elevators around the world and one elevator that consistently makes it into top ten lists is the world's highest outdoor elevator. We are referring to the Bailong Elevator also known as the Hundred Dragons Elevator inside the World Heritage Site at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan Province in China. Designed and operated by The Bailong Elevator Company the elevator was built between 1999 and 2002 at a cost of 120m yuan, or around £12m. It was opened to the public in 2002. There are three double-deck glass elevators that vertically transport passengers 330m high (1,070 feet) to a plateau near Shuiraosimen. The first 154 metres run through an underground shaft and the remainder via an above ground derrick. There are earthquake detectors installed so that the lifts can be evacuated quickly in case of disaster. The elevators have a passenger capacity of 50 and take 2 minutes from top to bottom giving a daily capacity of 18,000 people.
The Bailong Elevator project met stiff resistance and not just from the quartz sandstone column that the lift shaft was dug into. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1992. When the project was first muted in the 1990s environmentalists claimed that the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park already had enough tourists at 5 million annually and that the proposed Bailong Elevator Project was likely to increase this number and cause damage to the environment. Controversially the local government built the elevators without consulting the World Heritage Committee. This was the view of Edmond Moukala, then program officer of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Similar structures in World Heritage Sites are forbidden so the Bailong Elevator is one of a kind in more ways than one. In 2002 -2003 the elevator was closed for 10 months as safety concerns were resolved. Since reopening in September 2003 the elevator has remained open to the public. Perhaps the final word on the, 'should it have been built' debate should go to Project chief engineer Zhuo Zhiyuan who told Beijing Today, “Such elevators are really convenient for tourists. But from the angle of environmental protection, they shouldn’t have been erected.” However, he added, it was now too late to talk about whether the project should have been allowed or not. Now all we can do is to take it as a lesson and never make a similar mistake again.”
From the perspective of a passenger the Bailong Elevator is spectacular – the views of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are breathtaking and you have a 360 degree panoramic view that stretches for miles. The area is where the movie Avatar was filmed. The elevators save pedestrians three hours of walking. Are you planning a vertical transportation project? Do you have problems you are now facing?
Dunbar and Boardman is the lift, escalator and access equipment consultancy. We would be happy to discuss any such requirements and how we may be able to assist. Give us a call on T +44 (0) 20 7739 5093 or send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.