Captain George Vancouver Julia Butler Hansen Carlos Bulosan Ernestine Anderson Kurt Cobain Bill Gates & Paul Allen Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7100 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Albert R. Bruce steps into an elevator shaft and plunges to his death on March 5, 1910. Essay 3914 : Printer-Friendly Format

On March 5, 1910, A. R. Bruce (1875-1910) steps into an open elevator shaft at the Standard Furniture Company, at 2nd Avenue and Stewart Street. He assumes the elevator car he'd briefly stepped out of is still there, steps into the shaft, and plummets seven floors to his death. Calls are made for the city to regulate elevator maintenance and operation, but it takes more than a decade for Seattle to pass such an ordinance.

Death From Above

A. R. Bruce was in charge of the Standard Furniture Company elevator and at 3:00 p.m., he left it briefly while on the seventh floor. In his absence, a fellow employee moved the car up one floor. Not noticing this on his return, Bruce stepped into the now-open shaft and fell straight to the bottom. He died instantly.

Coroner J. C. Snyder was called for, and made a hurried investigation. The store passed on a short, guarded statement to the press, mentioning that although he was a good man, "Bruce was careless. He should have looked where he was going." Requests by reporters to see the elevator and the shaft were denied.

Bruce's wife of nine years was contacted. Three days earlier, the childless couple had made arrangements to adopt a daughter from a local foundlings' home and then move into their newly constructed cottage in Ballard. Hearing of her husband's death, Mrs. Bruce refused to believe it. "Albert told me he would be 15 minutes late, and it is not that time yet," she pleaded. "He will come home, I know he will." Soon afterward she fell prostrate.

Grant's Request

City Superintendent of Buildings Francis W. Grant met with reporters, stressing that the city needed to regulate the inspection of elevators. At the time, the only permit required was for installation of shafts, which were also required to be guarded. No provisions were made to enclose elevators or maintain machinery. "Every other large city requires elevator inspection," stated Grant, "Seattle should properly safeguard the elevators and machinery by adequate inspection."

It wasn't until 1923 that the Seattle city council passed an ordinance relating to the maintenance, operation, and inspection of freight and passenger elevators, as well as providing penalties for violation.

"Man Falls Seven Stories to Quick Death in Shaft," Seattle Post-Intelligencer March 6, 1910, p. 1; "Coroner Probes Death of Bruce," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 7, 1910, p. 2; Seattle City Clerk's Office (

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Law | Government & Politics | Buildings |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Illustration showing Bruce's fall, March 6, 1910
Courtesy Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email

Untitled Document