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The Creative and Forgotten Fire Escape Designs of the 1800s

In the 19th century, cities became crowded, buildings were built higher, and there were plenty of things to cause fires, like fireplaces, boilers, stoves, and gas lamps. Inventive minds went to work on emergency devices to evacuate people from burning buildings, such as an angled chute that could be rolled out to slide people down to the ground. Too bad it was made of flammable material. But it was still more practical than the invention you see here.

...Pasquale Nigro proposed a fabric-covered set of wings that would allow a wearer to fly down to safety. He wrote: “In operation, the wearer engages the loops with his hands and is prepared to leap, the air imprisoned beneath the fabric material, serving to up-hold the wearer and break the force of his fall.”

Nigro asked for about $33,000 in 1909 to execute his invention, however, the idea never quite took off.

See a a selection of fire escape inventions from the 1800s ranging from parachutes to grappling hooks at Atlas Obscura.


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