Why Betty Lou Oliver Should Make You Feel Better

g12c0000000000000000e53dad5b77d82cdf20e6f1b82951e53ef7af7b3On July 28, 1945, Betty Lou Oliver was presumably calmly going about her business as an elevator operator at the Empire State Building, just as she did every day.


As it happened, on July 28 a plane crashed into the Empire State Building. Did you know that? Because I did not. The plane crashed between the 78th and 80th floors, started a fire, and ultimately killed 14 people. Betty Lou, however, lived—though she was badly burned.

Rescuers pulled her out of the rubble and put her on an elevator…which, as we all hopefully now know, is not the best idea in a situation like this. Because of the crash, the two elevators’ safety cables had snapped. One elevator operator stepped out for a cigarette. In the other, Betty Lou plummeted 75 stories to the basement.

She screamed the whole way down.

Oh, she lived. Yeah. No, she lived until the 1990s! The 1,000 feet of now-useless cord apparently created a softer landing surface, so Betty Lou survived with pretty serious injuries, but she rode that damn elevator all the way up to the top just five months later. Let Betty Lou be a reminder of resiliency, would you?OLIVER. BETTY LOU (WALKS AGAIN)

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