China seems to be on the top of all the architectural records of the world; highest building, highest bridge, and even the tallest outdoor elevator. According to the Guinness World Records, Bailong elevator in Zhangjiajie National Park Hunan, China is the world’s tallest outdoor lift. The elevator runs along the length of a cliff, upto 326 meters.
The name Bailong elevator means, “Hundred Dragon Elevator.” The elevator opened up to the public in 2002, and won the Guinness World Record in 2015 at a special certificate presentation event. The incredible feat of the elevator is not its height, but the fact that it is built into a quartzite cliff. It allows its passengers to view and admire the spectacular rock formations of the area. The elevator can carry a weight of up to 4,900 kg; nearly 50 people. The elevator scales the 326 meters of its height in about 90 seconds, transporting 1,380 people per car in an hour.
The elevator project began in 1999 and was completed three years later, in 2002. Environmentalists and campaigners criticized the project costing 120 million yuan (1.7 million USD) saying that that the area receives too many tourists as it is a world heritage site. The region was listed on the UNESCO list so as its beauty can be preserved. The supporters, however, defended by saying that the elevator would save the mountain trails from traffic damage.
From thousands of cliffs in the area, a quartz sandstone column was chosen to be fitted with lift shafts. The cars of the elevator were equipped with earthquake detectors, allowing easy evacuation in case of a disaster. A little while after the lift opened in 2002, it was shut down for safety concerns. When reopened in 2003, the place soon became a famous tourist attraction, particularly for the ones seeking adventure.
Three separate sightseeing elevators run in parallel at a speed of 3 meters per second, carrying almost 4,000 passengers per hour at full capacity. The first 154 meters of the elevator hug the mountain walls while the rest of 172 meters run on an exposed steel derrick.
The Guinness World Record ceremony for awarding the record-breaking certificate was held in Hunan province, which was widely attended by the public. Rowan Simons, the President of the Guinness World Records for Greater China, attended the ceremony where he commented,
“It is our honor to verify this amazing achievement which not only provides a convenient transportation for tourists’ sightseeing but also saves time for supplying materials of scenic spots. It also maximizes the protection of the local natural environment and ecological balance.”
A lot of people thought that this elevator in the mountains was not a good idea as far as the environmental perspective is concerned. However, the authorities disagreed as they believed that the project would aid in the protection of the world heritage site rather than damaging it. Hotels, guesthouses, and other accommodation facilities in the area have been demolished already. Along with the reduction in travel time, it will reduce the negative impact on the environment. Despite the vast opposition, Chinese authorities supported its construction and claimed that the Environmental benefits of the project outweigh the bad effects.
Would you dare to climb 326 meters on a mountain in this scary glass elevator? Think again!