Philip Proefrock at Inhabitat discovers vacuum elevators, a slow but energy-efficient way of building an elevator that will rise one atmosphere, or about 33 feet. He notes that they have no nasty hydraulic fluids like conventional elevators, (although many residential elevators are chain drive and don't have hydraulics either).
Nonetheless, it reminded my of a childhood favourite, The Best Cartoons From Punch from 1952, which had a clever elevator design that used no power at all, reprinted below. It is even more retro and energy efficient than Philip's.click to enlarge:
Also see PSFK.