More details on yesterday's incident where 50 children and adults tumbled down an escalator at the Loews Lincoln Square theater (photo from Newsday). They were travelling up an escalator to see The Polar Express on IMAX, and someone, possibly a teacher, accidentally pressed an emergency button, which then caused the escalator to start moving down. Fire officials think a child's clothing became ensnared ("baggy-pants leg became ensnared by a protruding screw"), causing everyone to fall like dominoes, and as a Department of Buildings spokesperson said to the NY Times, "You can imagine the pandemonium when one child gets stuck on the escalator, others in front of him turn around to look, and the thing is still moving."

About 30 kids, ranging from wee kindergarteners to eighth graders, were piled up at the bottom of the stairs, 14 went to the hospital (none were admitted; most of the injuries were just scrapes and bruises, not including a new fear of escalators and movie theaters) and Loews was issued a summons. This reminds Gothamist of our fears of riding escalators; for many years, we refused to go on escalators, leaving us stranded momentarily when our relatives would think we were following right behind (it usually took a nice lady to convince us it wasn't scary). What's more, the escalator it happened on was the one that goes to the IMAX theaters from the second floor - the really steep and scary one. Poor kids, it's no fun for your face to be smushed against the angry metal grooves of the stairs; Gothamist is sorry for thinking it was funny (even though it does seem like a bad but funny movie).

2005_01_escalatorincident.jpgThe first escalator was invented in 1897 for a Coney Island ride by Jesse Reno. Learn how escalators work from How Stuff Works. Two films that use escalators well: Elf, with the escalator pushing Will Ferrell's physical comedy skills, and Chungking Express, which features the Mid Levels escalators that commuters take everyday (it's the longest outdoor escalator system in the world).