For Andrew Reams, an elevator ride as a toddler sparked a lifelong passion. When he was shopping with his mother in the Famous Barr & Co. department store in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1980s, she picked him up and told him to press an elevator button. The doors opened like a “magic wall,” and a lifelong love of elevators was born.
Reams has spent his entire life researching elevators. He especially enjoys historic lifts. An antique elevator has operated since before the 1950s, while a vintage lift has been operating since before 1980. He enjoys the glass roofs, ornate iron castings, art deco styling, and other decorative features of historic elevators. Riding in old elevators makes Reams feel connected to the past and to other people who have ridden them before him. He has made trips to visit historic elevators across the United States.
Reams began recording videos of his trips with a camcorder and started uploading them on YouTube in 2006 using the handle “DieselDucy.” He didn’t expect them to generate much interest, but it turned out that many people around the world were just as fascinated by elevators as he was.
Posts to his YouTube channel are often viewed tens of thousands of times. A video of an elevator at the Kansas City Marriott from 2013 has been viewed over 80,000 times.
Reams estimates that he has recorded videos of over 3,000 elevators. Fans comment on almost all of his videos. He has connected with elevator companies, and some have given him special tours or donated items to the elevator museum he runs from his home.
Reams appears in his videos and narrates from behind the camera. He films the elevators, as well as the exteriors of buildings, and often includes building employees. He sometimes has to get creative to get access to areas that are closed to the general public. He has encountered people who were suspicious about his filming but quickly warmed up when he told them his purpose.
Reams has made friends among other elevator enthusiasts. Jacob Batcha runs The Elevator Channel, which has more than 8,000 subscribers. He and Reams often appear in each other’s videos.
Reams is fascinated by elevators because of their machinery, history, and design. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. People with the condition often become fixated on things. In addition, Reams enjoys having control of a multi-sensory environment and believes other people with autism enjoy his videos for the same reason. The purpose of his “elevaTOURS” is to reach out to other people with autism and elevator enthusiasts.
He dreams of traveling to other countries to see their different forms of elevators. For now, however, Reams is content to continue documenting elevators in the United States.