As Skyscrapers Rose, So Did Portable Restrooms

Industry Artifacts,

World Trade Center Construction 1970

The “Skyscraper Boom” began in the early 1960s and continued through the 1980s.

The definition of a skyscraper has changed as technology has changed; today, a skyscraper is considered a structure of over 500 feet. Here are a few numbers that reflect the history of the skyscraper.

Structures over 500 Feet, by Decade:
1900-1959 41 (with the tallest being the Empire State Building at 1250 feet in 1931)
1960 47
1970 67
1980 116

Because portable restrooms were not required on job sites in the early days, contractors were losing valuable work time. Workers had to come down from the upper floors of the building to use portable restrooms on the ground. This situation was similar to the Navy Shipyards in World War II—workers had to leave the ship to use restrooms on shore.

Yet again, our industry literally rose to the occasion in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Always striving to meet and to exceed the needs of the customer, early innovators such as Satellite Industries developed Crane Lift Units. Before this, units could only be taken up and down on construction elevators, if they were even available.

3 of Satellite's Crane Units

By creating metal frames to externally support the unit and having a hook on the top of the frame, portable restrooms could then be transported to the upper floors of a skyscraper for use by those workers.

As units evolved from wooden to fiberglass to polyethylene, the crane lift technology also expanded into specialized “crane only” units.

 Here is an ad from the 1987 PSAI Nuts & Bolts Educational Seminar for an early one-piece unit that is based on the famous “Strongbox” developed by Harvey Heather in the 1970s. Essex Environmental (formerly Harvey’s company, USANCO) created this unit. Without a roof, these units more convenient to place and, with wheels, could easily be moved around the work area.

Essex Environmental Strongbox

As with ADA accessible units, handwash sinks, sink stations, and restroom trailers, the portable sanitation industry continues to adapt and innovate to provide the best customer service possible.

For even more interesting facts about the history of our industry and our Association, click on the link below to order your History Book today. All proceeds benefit the PSAI Scholarship Fund.

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