Charming Elevators in 19th Century Stockholm Buildings

I’m ordinarily not a lover of elevators. I usually avoid them both because I am slightly clastrophobic but also because it’s better for me to get the exercise walking up and down the stairs. However, I live on the fourth floor of a 19th century building in central Stockholm that has a cool and very tiny little elevator. It’s actually fun to ride in and operate.

First off, it’s more like an open cage than the box that most elevators are. You can see each floor as you rise or descend past it. In this particular building there are only five floors so one gets to check out one’s neighbors (their front doors, anyway) as you go by.



The doors to the elevators…


An old elevator door is still in place but new rules require there to be an internal door so that passengers are not exposed to the floors sliding past (well, the floors aren’t sliding past, the elevator is, but you get what I mean). The old door is a lovely grate with curlicues in the iron on either side.


“Rabbit” the dog rides the elevator…


Hit Ned
The buttons for calling the elevator say “hit” and “ned” which always entertains me (easily delighted) because I think what has poor Ned done to deserve such violence. But “hit” means “here” in English and is how you call the elevator to your floor. “Ned” means “down” and is how you send the elevator down to someone waiting on a lower floor. (I don’t really get why that person doesn’t call it themselves…probably a scenario that eludes me at this moment.)


Poor Ned…always getting the short end of the stick…


The inner door is more modern and is an accordion affair that you slide to one side after swinging open the outer door. Once in the elevator, you turn around and reverse the procedure. The elevator will not move if both doors are not closed. If you try to open one prematurely, the elevator just stops.

The elevator has a lovely warm, wooden interior that is really cozy. You want to just hang out in there. It’s small though–two people are embarrassingly close when riding together. (I mean, if you’re not good friends.) There are two wooden flip-down seats. I’ve never used one of those but it must be helpful to the elderly and infirm.

Open elevator

Here the elevator door are open. You can see the little flip-down seats…


The stairway curves around the elevator shaft. From the elevator you can see anyone who happens to be taking the stairs. Each floor has a large stained glass window in the staircase so if its light out; there is ambient light from that. Otherwise there is a timer light switch on every floor. It’s a little bit of a shabby building with peeling paint and the like but I like to think of it as “shabby chic.” So there doesn’t seem to be any motion sensors attached to the lights and I have often had the lights happen to time out while I am in the elevator and then suddenly the landings are quite dark (but there’s a light in the elevator.)

My dog, Rabbit and I often take the stairs. It depends on various criteria–how badly she has to get out and relieve herself, whether the elevator happens to already be on our floor, and various other factors.

Once in awhile for fun, when certain conditions are filled, I take the elevator and Rabbit takes the stairs. It was amusing to teach her how to do this.

Canine Problem Solving: Going Up!
It wasn’t immediately obvious to Rabbit what to do when I got into the elevator without her. But since the elevator is so open, she could see and hear me. I called to her and she took the steps to the next landing in order to follow me. I stopped at the first landing and let her onboard. Then we rode the rest of the way. Gradually, I began just stopping at each floor but not opening the elevator door. She would meet me at the elevator door and then go past to the next set of steps as I rose past her. I can call to her and give her encouragement as she winds around the elevator steps. I think she thinks it’s fun. When we meet on the fourth floor she is very happy to see me and looks just a little proud of herself.

There’s little risk because I know she’ll follow me and there are very few residents in the building and most have met her already. I can hear if someone is coming. Downstairs there are inner and outer doors so she can’t get outside although she would never want to go out without me anyway.


The staircase curves around the elevator.


Going Down!
It’s interesting that Rabbit seems to find going down the stairs by herself more challenging. I don’t really know why. It’s not the stairs themselves since she has no problem when we walk down them together. But I think she has to figure out which set of stairs is ascending and which is descending as she gets to each landing. It seems to take her a moment to figure it out.

All in all, I think both she and I get a kick out of these nifty elevators in the fabulous 19th century buildings in Stockholm.


Here I am in the elevator! (Did I mention there’s a mirror in there?)

  • cynic

    I think I know the reason for the down (“Ned”) button.
    Unlike new elevators this old one lack (or possible lacked) the function to automaticlly go down to the entrance floor direct (or shortly) after use. So the that was left to be done manually, if you weren’t shortly going to use it yourself to get down, since it was more likley that the next use would be from the ground floor.
    At least that is my fairly qualified guess :)

    • Kristin Lund

      Hmmm, you could be right. I don’t really know what the elevator etiquette in our building is. I mean, is it true that someone is more likely to need it on the ground floor?

      • Siskan

        Consider that people are living on different floors. Everybody will enter on the ground floor, but only the people living on the third floor are likely to take the elevator from there.
        Not to mention it takes more energy to climb the stairs compared to going down. So a lot of people probably wouldn’t bother taking the elevator down, while going up saves a lot more energy.

  • Monica-USA

    Cool old building and elevator. :o )

  • scandidream

    I will add “hit ned” to the list of Swedish words that sound or read very wrongly in English (morgon, natt, bra, etc) I hope the heating is good and that the weather is not too much of a challenge. I often feel that I lack the physical skills to live in Sweden (particularly up north) as I will certainly slide and break a bone or my car will glide downhill and make an accident.

  • Christie

    Loved this story! Well done, Kristen!

    • Kristin Lund

      Thanks for commenting. Merry Christmas!

  • S Terzian-Feliz

    Rabbit, you are having SO many adventures, you will be too sophisticated for us if you ever come back to the States. But now that you are a Euro citizen with your own passport and all, you probably will only come to visit. I am so proud of all your new skills. If only you could teach Drago to use the treadmill!! Looking forward to seeing your Mother.

    • Kristin Lund

      Hmmm…I’ve seen Cesar Milan use those doggie treadmills…Drago will learn…maybe I can help! Merry Christmas, Sandra!