MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Our next story has far fewer flips and spins, but it still falls within the realm of ups and downs. Andrew Reams has a rather distinctive hobby. He records videos of himself touring elevators, everything from modern elevators to historic elevators to mundane freight elevators rarely seen by the public. Reams has uploaded more than a thousand tours on YouTube under his username dieselducy.
MR. ANDREW REAMS
Tell me when you're ready.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1
Yeah, I'm filming now.
We are in the basement of the Intercontinental Hotel. It used to be the Alameda Plaza. And do you know what this is? A sky lift.
And as of this week he has 10,000 subscribers, and over 40 million views. Reams took "Metro Connection's" Steven Yenzer on a tour of some of D.C.'s most interesting elevators. They met up on the National Mall.
MR. STEVEN YENZER
Andrew Reams has loved elevators for as long as he can remember.
Do you want to hear how I first got into elevators?
I do. I totally do.
I'll tell you about my first elevator ride.
He was 3 years old, at the mall with his mom.
And I was like, wow, what's that? And she's like, that's the elevator. She's like, would you like to push the button? She picks me up. I push the button. This wall opens with the doors open and here's this little white room. And I'm like, that looks scary. And she's like, well, it's magic. It's going to take us downstairs. I was like, okay. We'll try that. She's like, press the button that says 1. I pressed the button, doors closed, down it goes, opens back up. I'm like, that was fun. I want to do that again.
Andrew has been enchanted ever since. Although he says the ride hasn't always been a smooth one.
There's actually a time where I -- there's two years in my life when I wouldn't ride an elevator. I got stuck in one when I was a kid.
He was only stuck for a few minutes, but Andrew says that terrifying experience led him to learn more about how elevators work.
Basically, when I became afraid of elevators, how I conquered the fear, I learned about them. I did extensive, extensive research back in the late '80s. That's why I know more about the older elevators from these modern new-fangled contraptions.
Andrew also has a high-functioning form of Autism called Asperger's syndrome. One of the common traits of Asperger's is an intense focus on particular topics. For Andrew, those topics are lighting fixtures, locks, and, of course, elevators. He says that many of his fellow elevator enthusiasts are also autistic, and many of them are kids in search of a community.
A lot of people like me never had any friends in school. We got picked on. I was called retarded Reamzoid. Did you take your control pills? Stuff like that. So I was very unhappy and I resorted to my elevator obsession as a way to vent. It would relax me. I'd got to my dad's school, ride up and down the elevator. That was what I loved doing and it was one thing that I could find happiness in. And basically these kids, I guess, the reason the community -- because they're bonding with other kids, they're going through what they're going through, so you form a camaraderie.
That camaraderie has led to a surprisingly large online community. There are hundreds of active elevator reviewers on YouTube, but Andrew is the most prolific by far, with nearly 1,500 videos and tens of millions of views. The popularity of his dieselducy channel has led to a YouTube advertising partnership that he says earns him more than his first full-time job did at McDonalds.
Our first stop is the Smithsonian Castle, to ride a couple of staff elevators that are about 50 years old. These things are tiny with antique buttons and brass gates. Once we reach the bottom floor, Andrew steps out and goes into tour mode.
We are going to have an opportunity to ride a very unique elevator. That's right. This thing, this beautiful Otis elevator.
We leave the Castle, although not before Andrew finds two more elevators to ride, and trek across the mall to the National Museum of American History. We'd heard it has the largest freight elevator in the Smithsonian system and we are not disappointed.
You're going to get to ride the Otis elevator, the freight elevator. Wait until you see how big this thing is.
It's massive. Picture your living room, except it moves up and down.
This thinning is so huge I can't even get my whole frame -- it's big enough to where it could fit a small truck inside of it. You know, monitor T.R. fixtures. This used to have the Otis black buttons. You all coming along? Now we're going to close the door.
The museum has used this elevator to move a revolutionary war gunship, a 19th-century fire engine, and Julia Child's kitchen.
That is a behemoth of a door, huge.
After four hours and six elevators, I am ready to have a seat. But Andrew is already planning his next video. He says he's heading back to the American History museum to get some more footage, and thinks he might stop by the National Gallery of Art. He's heard good things about its elevators. It's tempting, but I think I’m ready to stay on the ground floor for awhile. I'm Steven Yenzer.
You can check out Andrew Reams tour of an elevator he and Steven visited at the Newseum on our website, metroconnection.org.
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