Photo: Brightly lit tall building at night

The 67 elevators of Taipei 101—one of the tallest buildings in the world—include two to the observation deck that are the world's second fastest, and others that are two stories high.

Photograph by Neil Wade, My Shot

From the National Geographic book Journeys of a Lifetime

  1. CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

    The world’s tallest tower is a sheer stiletto that defines the Toronto skyline. A glass-fronted elevator whisks you up to the outdoor observation platform in 58 seconds. Then, if you’re brave, ascend another 33 floors for three more look-out levels. The ultimate, vertigo-inducing view is at 1,465 feet (447 meters) from the Sky Pod, which requires another ticket.

    www.cntower.ca
  2. Maritime Museum of British Columbia, Victoria, Canada

    The oldest operating birdcage elevator in North America was installed in 1899 in this elegant building, which then housed the Provincial Law Courts. It was intended for the use of the second Chief Justice, but since he died before the elevator was ready it has provided material for numerous ghost stories. Step inside the elaborate, gilded car with its lacy grillwork and relive some spectral moments in style.

    www.mmbc.bc.ca
  3. Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, California

    Take one of the five exterior elevators—the fastest in the city—from the lobby. Push 32. Brace yourself as you catapult upward at 1,000 feet (305 meters) per minute. A panoramic view of San Francisco unfolds in less than 30 ear-popping seconds. The downward plunge is the closest you can come to being swallowed up by the city. Not for those with weak stomachs!

    www.westinstfrancis.com
  4. Empire State Building, New York City

    One of the world’s greatest urban views is of the heart of Manhattan from the Empire State Building, whose 103 floors are served by 73 cars pulled by 120 miles (193 kilometers) of ropes operating at a rate of 600–1,000 feet (183–305 meters) per minute. The observatory on the 86th floor has a glass-enclosed area and outdoor promenades on all sides; viewing at night is spectacular. There is also an observatory on the 102nd floor.

    www.esbnyc.com
  5. Taipei 101, Taiwan

    This is where you experience rocket travel without leaving Earth. The 1,667-foot (508-meter), 101-story building has 67 elevators, including two to the observation deck that are the world’s second fastest. Other elevators are two stories high and open on two floors simultaneously.

    www.taipei-101.com.tw

  1. Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

    Scan the Asian metropolis from the exterior glass elevator of Thailand’s tallest hotel (1,076 feet/328 meters). Besides the observatory, there’s a roof deck revolving 360 degrees on the 84th floor. Don’t miss the night view from the Sky Lounge.

    www.baiyokehotel.com
  2. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

    Ascend this iconic symbol of France and take a close look at the structure that caused outrage when it was built for the World Fair of 1889. The 1,050-foot (320-meter) climb ends in a panoramic view of Paris, especially lovely at sunset. Don’t miss Gustave Eiffel’s imposing elevator engines in the basement, still in use after being restored and computerized more than a century after they were built.

    www.discoverfrance.net
  3. Hammetschwand Lift, Bürgenstock, Switzerland

    Hike the splendid path along the cliffs of the Bürgenstock peninsula to where the Hammetschwand plateau juts out into Lake Lucerne. Here you will find the highest exterior elevator in Europe. In less than a minute you’ll rise 502 feet (153 meters), taking in dizzying views on the way, to find yourself at the summit of the Hammetschwand. From here the panorama of the Swiss Alps and lakes is matchless.

    www.myswitzerland.com
  4. Burj Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    See the shape of things to come. Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower, known as Burj Dubai during construction), with a design using Islamic elements and based on a desert flower, opened in 2010. The world’s fastest elevator with double-decker cars serves the world’s tallest building at more than 150 stories and 2,600 feet (792 meters) high, with an observation deck on the 124th floor.

    www.burjdubaiskyscraper.com
  5. Suur Munamägi, Võrumaa, Estonia

    Take an elevator atop an isolated hill in one of the world’s least spoiled places. Suur Munamägi (Big Egg Hill) in Haanja, south Estonia, is the highest point (1,043 feet/318 meters) in the Baltic States. This thoroughly new machine takes you up the 95-foot (29-meter) observation tower that looks out on the primeval forests and lakes of Estonia, Latvia, and Russia.

    www.suurmunamagi.ee

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