The history of air conditioning

Washington, D.C., turns into a sweltering swamp in the summer.  It has been said that our problems with a too-big government began with the invention of air conditioning.  Before that, Congress and government officials only stayed in town a few months and was anxious to leave.  Since air conditioning was invented, they stick around all year, passing laws and running things.

I don’t know about that, but Monica Hesse, in an article about how air conditioning makes offices too cold, gives us the history of this great invention:

The blessing of modern air conditioning was bestowed upon us 110 years ago this summer by Willis Haviland Carrier, a young Buffalo native with a prominent nose on a handsome face. Carrier worked for a heating company in Upstate New York, and in 1902, was tasked with devising a solution for a printing company whose equipment was going haywire because of the summer humidity. His proposal involved fans, coils and coolants, and it worked.

His invention spread widely to movie theaters, but it took nearly half a century for air conditioning to reach workplaces. In pre-World War II architecture, buildings were designed so that every room got a window, air and light. This led to sprawling structures that took up a lot of land and cost a lot of money, which was impractical in urban areas like Washington. It would have been much more economical to put workers in giant block buildings, except, of course, that the buildings would be dark, sticky hellholes.

Enter air conditioning, says Gail Cooper, a Lehigh University historian who wrote “Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment.”

“Air conditioning and fluorescent lights made block buildings possible,” she says.

Really. You shouldn’t have.

What’s interesting about the introduction of air conditioning in the workspace, Cooper says, is that the development was tied as much to architectural design — making square, cheap buildings practical — as it was to climate. It was hard, at first, to sell employers on the notion that their workers deserved to be comfortable during the day, so air-conditioning companies tried to frame it as a productivity issue.

And productivity was an issue. As the implementers of incremental process, the federal government had contrived a mathematical formula to determine whether it was too hot for its employees to work. When the outside temperature plus 20 percent of the humidity reached 100, workers would be sent home — a sort of reverse snow day policy that could have drastic effects in a place like Washington. In 1953, the city slogged through a week-long heat wave that resulted in illnesses, heat stroke and at least 26,284 federal workers being sent home.

In 1956, the General Services Administration got a large appropriation to retrofit all federal buildings with air conditioning. A quarter of that went to buildings in Washington.

Salvation had come to the city.

via Donning sweaters and Snuggies to combat the office’s deep freeze in the heat of summer – The Washington Post.

I like it cold.  If electricity were no object, I’d crank up the air conditioner until my breath fogs.  And at night I’d make it colder, then pile on the blankets and comforters to keep warm.

So here’s to you, W. H. Carrier!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Similarly, Atlanta was a small southern backwater town and it wasn’t until AC came on the scene that it began to grow to become the metropolis that it is now.

  • Pete

    Similarly, Atlanta was a small southern backwater town and it wasn’t until AC came on the scene that it began to grow to become the metropolis that it is now.

  • Robert McDowell

    If only AC had been banned by D.C.
    – Congress would have shorter sessions and commit fewer acts of mischief.
    – There would be smaller D.C. bureaucracies.

  • Robert McDowell

    If only AC had been banned by D.C.
    – Congress would have shorter sessions and commit fewer acts of mischief.
    – There would be smaller D.C. bureaucracies.

  • Carl Vehse

    @2: “If only AC had been banned by D.C.”

    No, Congress would still have A/C.

    The truism will hold: “When A/C is outlawed only outlaws will have A/C.”

  • Carl Vehse

    @2: “If only AC had been banned by D.C.”

    No, Congress would still have A/C.

    The truism will hold: “When A/C is outlawed only outlaws will have A/C.”

  • Booklover

    Bless you, Dr. V., for liking it cold and for being able to have it that way. When a woman my age cranks up the cooler, she gets ridiculed and chastized for “going through the change;” when in fact she isn’t, but just longs for the air to circulate!

  • Booklover

    Bless you, Dr. V., for liking it cold and for being able to have it that way. When a woman my age cranks up the cooler, she gets ridiculed and chastized for “going through the change;” when in fact she isn’t, but just longs for the air to circulate!

  • http://www.yespeak.com njbolzman

    Candice Millard writes in her book on the Garfield assassination that an early form of air conditioning was developed in the White House to ease Garfield’s suffering during the summer of 1881. (An early form of a metal detector was also developed by Alexander Graham Bell in a futile attempt to locate the bullet.)

  • http://www.yespeak.com njbolzman

    Candice Millard writes in her book on the Garfield assassination that an early form of air conditioning was developed in the White House to ease Garfield’s suffering during the summer of 1881. (An early form of a metal detector was also developed by Alexander Graham Bell in a futile attempt to locate the bullet.)

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    If people think it is too cold in the office they can put on some more cloths.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    If people think it is too cold in the office they can put on some more cloths.

  • DonS

    It would be nice to be able to open the windows in office buildings, however. Especially in a moderate climate like the one here in southern California where I live and work.

  • DonS

    It would be nice to be able to open the windows in office buildings, however. Especially in a moderate climate like the one here in southern California where I live and work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I have a window in my office. I open all the time in the summer.
    And, I have a personal space heater for when the building swamp cooler actually works and is too cold…

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I have a window in my office. I open all the time in the summer.
    And, I have a personal space heater for when the building swamp cooler actually works and is too cold…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said:

    I like it cold. If electricity were no object, I’d crank up the air conditioner until my breath fogs.

    I’m willing to bet this does not hold in the middle of winter. That is, I bet you don’t set your thermostat at 50 for your Sunday afternoon nap.

    I left the Land of Required AC (namely, Houston) over a decade ago, and I really don’t miss that part of it. My house in Portland doesn’t have central AC (like most houses of its age in the city core), though we gave in and purchased a portable unit a few years ago for guests — since the guest room is up on the second floor, which is 5+ degrees warmer than the first floor.

    You can have your AC. I’ll keep my night breezes and listening to the sound of a gentle rain with the windows open.

    Also, my office building has several windows that open (of course, it predates AC), though none of the newer windows do. We do have AC at work, though — as evidenced by all the space heaters the ladies have under their desks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said:

    I like it cold. If electricity were no object, I’d crank up the air conditioner until my breath fogs.

    I’m willing to bet this does not hold in the middle of winter. That is, I bet you don’t set your thermostat at 50 for your Sunday afternoon nap.

    I left the Land of Required AC (namely, Houston) over a decade ago, and I really don’t miss that part of it. My house in Portland doesn’t have central AC (like most houses of its age in the city core), though we gave in and purchased a portable unit a few years ago for guests — since the guest room is up on the second floor, which is 5+ degrees warmer than the first floor.

    You can have your AC. I’ll keep my night breezes and listening to the sound of a gentle rain with the windows open.

    Also, my office building has several windows that open (of course, it predates AC), though none of the newer windows do. We do have AC at work, though — as evidenced by all the space heaters the ladies have under their desks.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Let me see if I got this straight.
    Half naked women are complaining that offices are too cold.
    Hmm. Maybe if they wear suits to the office, they will feel just fine. It seems to work for the men. I never hear guys in suits complaining that the office is too cold.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Let me see if I got this straight.
    Half naked women are complaining that offices are too cold.
    Hmm. Maybe if they wear suits to the office, they will feel just fine. It seems to work for the men. I never hear guys in suits complaining that the office is too cold.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I can’t resist sharing this painting. Whenever the conversation turns to A/C in the south, I always remember this picture and imagine how dang hot it must have been for these guys in New Orleans.

    http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/paintings-by-hilaire-germain-edgar-degas4.htm

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I can’t resist sharing this painting. Whenever the conversation turns to A/C in the south, I always remember this picture and imagine how dang hot it must have been for these guys in New Orleans.

    http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/paintings-by-hilaire-germain-edgar-degas4.htm

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@10), I don’t know if you were replying to me, but in my office, the women aren’t anywhere close to “half-naked”, nor do the men wear suits. We all dress pretty casual around here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@10), I don’t know if you were replying to me, but in my office, the women aren’t anywhere close to “half-naked”, nor do the men wear suits. We all dress pretty casual around here.

  • DonS

    sg @ 11, my daughter-in-law works for me in our office, is usually cold, and has a space heater under her desk. She most certainly does not come into our office “half-naked”, nor do any of the other women in our office. In fact, they all keep sweaters at the office. As a generality, younger women tend to feel the cold more readily than men, regardless of how they dress.

  • DonS

    sg @ 11, my daughter-in-law works for me in our office, is usually cold, and has a space heater under her desk. She most certainly does not come into our office “half-naked”, nor do any of the other women in our office. In fact, they all keep sweaters at the office. As a generality, younger women tend to feel the cold more readily than men, regardless of how they dress.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Assuming they are wearing a full set of proper clothing, I wonder why younger women get cold more often. I remember occasionally feeling cold in air conditioned buildings when I was young. I literally have never felt cold since my first pregnancy. Still I wonder why that is. I weigh the same as I did in high school, so it isn’t weight gain. I am probably just not very sympathetic because neither heat nor cold bother me. I just feel like they should quit whining. Okay, I guess I am rambling…

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Assuming they are wearing a full set of proper clothing, I wonder why younger women get cold more often. I remember occasionally feeling cold in air conditioned buildings when I was young. I literally have never felt cold since my first pregnancy. Still I wonder why that is. I weigh the same as I did in high school, so it isn’t weight gain. I am probably just not very sympathetic because neither heat nor cold bother me. I just feel like they should quit whining. Okay, I guess I am rambling…

  • Joanne

    I suffer more from the cold in the summer from air conditioning, than I do in the winter, especially when I worked in large Federal buildings here on the northern fringe of the Gulf of Mexico.

    I have a very clear memory of life here before air conditioning, there were millions and millions of us dealing with it with high ceilings, screened porches, cross-ventilation, transomes over every door, over-hanging shade trees, huge attics, ceiling fans, buildings built up off the ground on brick piers to minimize the dampness coming up from the ground, large extending shades anywhere windows met sunlight.

    New Orleans had a population of over 150,000 at the time of the War Between the States. New Orleans had to be retrofited for both the automobile and air conditioning in the 1st half of the 20th century.

    Do you remember the Joanne Woodward movie of 1957, “The Three Faces of Eve,” and the scene when Eve was a little girl and was called inside the house from underneath the house where the children were playing. It was always lots cooler under the house where we might find newborn kittens or puppies sometimes. Or a pet aligator holes out till a bunch of men come to get it. The worst were the dog fights under the house that you could hear so well through the floor furnace.

    But right above that floor furnace there was a summer opening to the attack and a huge attic fan. That was the new development that came before air conditioning. With an attic fan, you went to sleep hot but in a light breeze coming in the window, the beds were put under windows whenever possible, then wake up freezing in the morning.

    Again, in the mid-1950s, the family took a trip way up north to Washington, DC. My father had worked for a Louisiana Congressman during the 30s and had lots of memories he wanted to revisit. Also, my sister and I had been sent to summer camps up in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, so we were scooped up on the way north. And we always traveled with cousins.

    My father had to stay at the Fairfax Hotel, because he said he had always wanted to do that, and it was in the area of DC where he had a second job at a Pharmacy. It was a great trip, but the only thing that was a bother this August trip was how cold we all got at night in DC. During the day, it was just normal weather, but when the sun went down we were cold and we had never had that happen before in August so we had no warm clothes.

    I posit that Southerners were not particularily bothered about working in DC during the summer, but had a problem with the brutal winters (to us). The Northerners suffered through the summer, but coped as usual with winter. That probably kept employment favoring the locals.

    Now, the best thing that made the Deep South bearable before air conditioning was the every-afternoon thunderstorm preceded by a bracingly cool downdraft that blew through our houses and stores taking all the noonday heat with it. I love the rain. Here in the Summer, the rain is always warm enough to play in, and we never interrupted our daily chores and bidness because of rain, it being so common an occurrance. When the rain starts you just hold something, a folded newspaper, a purse, over your head and just kept on going. You’d dry out pretty fast wherever you were going….till air conditioned stores began to freeze damp shoppers.

    We are reminded of those and even earlier days about every 20 years when a hurricane comes through and throws us back into the pre-electricity age for a few weeks to a month. If you’re living in a modern tract house on a concrete slab, with none of those heat coping features mentioned above, it’s like living in a large oven. That’s the worst part of any hurricane, if you still have a house after it.

    And I must put a link to the “Top 10 Reasons that Hurricane Season is like Christmas Season.” Reason number 1 is right on. We had 7 very large pine trees on the roof after Katrina, but the roof held. We only had a couple branches that wiggled through the soffits and into the house.

    http://uuminister.blogspot.com/2008/09/top-ten-reasons-hurricane-season-is.html

    So, after Katrina, we have no pine trees left at all in our yard or close enough to fall on us. The magnolia and live oak trees did not fall over for the most part. We have a friend from church who had only one large pine tree in her yard. When it fell during the storm it went clean through the house all the way to the concrete slab, cutting her house in two. She lived in a FEMA trailer for months after initially staying with us. Bless her poor little heart. But since the rebuild, her house is much nicer now. Satan meant Katrina for harm, but God meant it for our good.

  • Joanne

    I suffer more from the cold in the summer from air conditioning, than I do in the winter, especially when I worked in large Federal buildings here on the northern fringe of the Gulf of Mexico.

    I have a very clear memory of life here before air conditioning, there were millions and millions of us dealing with it with high ceilings, screened porches, cross-ventilation, transomes over every door, over-hanging shade trees, huge attics, ceiling fans, buildings built up off the ground on brick piers to minimize the dampness coming up from the ground, large extending shades anywhere windows met sunlight.

    New Orleans had a population of over 150,000 at the time of the War Between the States. New Orleans had to be retrofited for both the automobile and air conditioning in the 1st half of the 20th century.

    Do you remember the Joanne Woodward movie of 1957, “The Three Faces of Eve,” and the scene when Eve was a little girl and was called inside the house from underneath the house where the children were playing. It was always lots cooler under the house where we might find newborn kittens or puppies sometimes. Or a pet aligator holes out till a bunch of men come to get it. The worst were the dog fights under the house that you could hear so well through the floor furnace.

    But right above that floor furnace there was a summer opening to the attack and a huge attic fan. That was the new development that came before air conditioning. With an attic fan, you went to sleep hot but in a light breeze coming in the window, the beds were put under windows whenever possible, then wake up freezing in the morning.

    Again, in the mid-1950s, the family took a trip way up north to Washington, DC. My father had worked for a Louisiana Congressman during the 30s and had lots of memories he wanted to revisit. Also, my sister and I had been sent to summer camps up in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, so we were scooped up on the way north. And we always traveled with cousins.

    My father had to stay at the Fairfax Hotel, because he said he had always wanted to do that, and it was in the area of DC where he had a second job at a Pharmacy. It was a great trip, but the only thing that was a bother this August trip was how cold we all got at night in DC. During the day, it was just normal weather, but when the sun went down we were cold and we had never had that happen before in August so we had no warm clothes.

    I posit that Southerners were not particularily bothered about working in DC during the summer, but had a problem with the brutal winters (to us). The Northerners suffered through the summer, but coped as usual with winter. That probably kept employment favoring the locals.

    Now, the best thing that made the Deep South bearable before air conditioning was the every-afternoon thunderstorm preceded by a bracingly cool downdraft that blew through our houses and stores taking all the noonday heat with it. I love the rain. Here in the Summer, the rain is always warm enough to play in, and we never interrupted our daily chores and bidness because of rain, it being so common an occurrance. When the rain starts you just hold something, a folded newspaper, a purse, over your head and just kept on going. You’d dry out pretty fast wherever you were going….till air conditioned stores began to freeze damp shoppers.

    We are reminded of those and even earlier days about every 20 years when a hurricane comes through and throws us back into the pre-electricity age for a few weeks to a month. If you’re living in a modern tract house on a concrete slab, with none of those heat coping features mentioned above, it’s like living in a large oven. That’s the worst part of any hurricane, if you still have a house after it.

    And I must put a link to the “Top 10 Reasons that Hurricane Season is like Christmas Season.” Reason number 1 is right on. We had 7 very large pine trees on the roof after Katrina, but the roof held. We only had a couple branches that wiggled through the soffits and into the house.

    http://uuminister.blogspot.com/2008/09/top-ten-reasons-hurricane-season-is.html

    So, after Katrina, we have no pine trees left at all in our yard or close enough to fall on us. The magnolia and live oak trees did not fall over for the most part. We have a friend from church who had only one large pine tree in her yard. When it fell during the storm it went clean through the house all the way to the concrete slab, cutting her house in two. She lived in a FEMA trailer for months after initially staying with us. Bless her poor little heart. But since the rebuild, her house is much nicer now. Satan meant Katrina for harm, but God meant it for our good.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Anyway, about the half naked thing. A reasonably modest dress, not hoochie, may have no sleeves and bare legs. I am thinking something like this beautiful dress the First Lady was wearing the other day.
    http://glamazonsblog.com/2012/05/steal-her-look-michelle-obama-in-blue-sheath-dress-and-erickson-beamon-starburst-pin/michelle-obama-in-blue-dress/
    Okay, any guys in your offices wearing sleeveless shirts and bare lower legs?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Anyway, about the half naked thing. A reasonably modest dress, not hoochie, may have no sleeves and bare legs. I am thinking something like this beautiful dress the First Lady was wearing the other day.
    http://glamazonsblog.com/2012/05/steal-her-look-michelle-obama-in-blue-sheath-dress-and-erickson-beamon-starburst-pin/michelle-obama-in-blue-dress/
    Okay, any guys in your offices wearing sleeveless shirts and bare lower legs?

  • DonS

    I hope not, sg.

  • DonS

    I hope not, sg.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    One more thing. President Obama is walking right next to her, and he is wearing far more clothes in the same weather/temperature. I am assuming he is wearing socks. If she were wearing as much as he, she would be just as warm. And the president isn’t dressed fancy. His clothes are somewhat casual.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    One more thing. President Obama is walking right next to her, and he is wearing far more clothes in the same weather/temperature. I am assuming he is wearing socks. If she were wearing as much as he, she would be just as warm. And the president isn’t dressed fancy. His clothes are somewhat casual.

  • Joanne

    Three Faces of Eve, under the house.

    It’s at the end of the clip and titled: Jane as a child.

    I can tell you that I have heard the expression: “Now come on out honey; don’t make me call your Mother to tell her you won’t come out from under the house.”

    Our house was lower that Eve/Jane’s, but the warning was usually all that was needed to get us to come out to face the consequences of whatever. It was usually to get bathed and dressed up to go somewhere we weren’t all that excited to go to. But kissing the dead has never been a custom I’ve seen here.

  • Joanne

    Three Faces of Eve, under the house.

    It’s at the end of the clip and titled: Jane as a child.

    I can tell you that I have heard the expression: “Now come on out honey; don’t make me call your Mother to tell her you won’t come out from under the house.”

    Our house was lower that Eve/Jane’s, but the warning was usually all that was needed to get us to come out to face the consequences of whatever. It was usually to get bathed and dressed up to go somewhere we weren’t all that excited to go to. But kissing the dead has never been a custom I’ve seen here.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Joanne, thanks for that memoir! It brought back some memories for me too of Oklahoma. We didn’t have air conditioning either when I was a little kid, though we did when I was older. And you are right: attic fans, sucking that breeze in at night through an open window, are the best! And standing in front of a “water cooler” felt pretty good too (a type of fan that blew over wet coils).

    But the conversation about clothes and SG’s painting of men in top hats and tails in Louisiana raise something else I’ve always been curious about. In the 19th century–and before that–at a time when there was no air conditioning at all, or even electric fans, men and women both wore layers upon layers of mostly wool clothing. Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona, would have worn cotton undergarments, then long woolen underwear, then a shirt, then a vest, then a black suit. Why, and how did they keep from dropping dead?

    I’m thinking that so many clothes created an extreme insulation effect, actually protecting the body from heat. I’ve heard that explanation for why the Bedouins of the desert wear those long, all-covering robes.

    Does anybody know anything about this?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Joanne, thanks for that memoir! It brought back some memories for me too of Oklahoma. We didn’t have air conditioning either when I was a little kid, though we did when I was older. And you are right: attic fans, sucking that breeze in at night through an open window, are the best! And standing in front of a “water cooler” felt pretty good too (a type of fan that blew over wet coils).

    But the conversation about clothes and SG’s painting of men in top hats and tails in Louisiana raise something else I’ve always been curious about. In the 19th century–and before that–at a time when there was no air conditioning at all, or even electric fans, men and women both wore layers upon layers of mostly wool clothing. Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona, would have worn cotton undergarments, then long woolen underwear, then a shirt, then a vest, then a black suit. Why, and how did they keep from dropping dead?

    I’m thinking that so many clothes created an extreme insulation effect, actually protecting the body from heat. I’ve heard that explanation for why the Bedouins of the desert wear those long, all-covering robes.

    Does anybody know anything about this?

  • Marie

    Wool cools as well as warms, probably because it removes moisture from the skin, like cotton (synthetic fabric, however, does not). We use wool diaper covers on our baby, even in the summer. She doesn’t get heat (or diaper) rashes. I read someplace wool also has greater UV protection than other fabrics. I don’t think the summer wool suits, though, are of the same weight and make as the winter wools.

    In 19th century photos and paintings I bet some people are just dressed up for the painting/photo.

    I do wish the practice of women wearing undergarments (besides the minimum bra and panties) to absorb sweat would return. It’d be easier to do laundry, and one could probably own fewer, but better clothes.

    Back to AC–I hate the sound of all those units buzzing. We turn ours on when the upstairs gets unbearable, or we sleep in the basement or back porch. I don’t mind heat, but don’t like stale air. The air conditioning cools our house, but it stays stuffy, so you keep wanting to turn it lower.

    Even though we had central air, I grew up with ceiling fans, and the air would kick on only if the house got above 85. A ceiling fan in our living room (and a house fan in the mold-prone attic) is on our list of “to buy.”

    But, yeah, yuck to all those buzzing air conditioners. And yuck to high electricity bills.

  • Marie

    Wool cools as well as warms, probably because it removes moisture from the skin, like cotton (synthetic fabric, however, does not). We use wool diaper covers on our baby, even in the summer. She doesn’t get heat (or diaper) rashes. I read someplace wool also has greater UV protection than other fabrics. I don’t think the summer wool suits, though, are of the same weight and make as the winter wools.

    In 19th century photos and paintings I bet some people are just dressed up for the painting/photo.

    I do wish the practice of women wearing undergarments (besides the minimum bra and panties) to absorb sweat would return. It’d be easier to do laundry, and one could probably own fewer, but better clothes.

    Back to AC–I hate the sound of all those units buzzing. We turn ours on when the upstairs gets unbearable, or we sleep in the basement or back porch. I don’t mind heat, but don’t like stale air. The air conditioning cools our house, but it stays stuffy, so you keep wanting to turn it lower.

    Even though we had central air, I grew up with ceiling fans, and the air would kick on only if the house got above 85. A ceiling fan in our living room (and a house fan in the mold-prone attic) is on our list of “to buy.”

    But, yeah, yuck to all those buzzing air conditioners. And yuck to high electricity bills.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona,”

    Minor point here. Cochise county isn’t really all that hot. My great grandparents homesteaded there and my grandmother grew up there. Due to the dryness and elevation, about 5,000 ft, it is fairly cool. It is really cold in winter. Kansas City feels much hotter from June-August than Cochise county. Kansas City averages about 5 degrees hotter in the summer, 10 degrees hotter at night, so the house never really cools off before it heats up again the next day. My in-laws have an 1880′s Victorian house in KC with only room air conditioners. I know what it’s like.
    Today’s forecast high in Bisbee is 95, but low is 52, humidity 8%.
    Kansas city is “only” 90, low 73, humidity 42%.

    If I were wearing wool, I would rather be in Bisbee than KC.
    If I were wearing my grandmother’s cotton dress, I’d still pick Bisbee.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona,”

    Minor point here. Cochise county isn’t really all that hot. My great grandparents homesteaded there and my grandmother grew up there. Due to the dryness and elevation, about 5,000 ft, it is fairly cool. It is really cold in winter. Kansas City feels much hotter from June-August than Cochise county. Kansas City averages about 5 degrees hotter in the summer, 10 degrees hotter at night, so the house never really cools off before it heats up again the next day. My in-laws have an 1880′s Victorian house in KC with only room air conditioners. I know what it’s like.
    Today’s forecast high in Bisbee is 95, but low is 52, humidity 8%.
    Kansas city is “only” 90, low 73, humidity 42%.

    If I were wearing wool, I would rather be in Bisbee than KC.
    If I were wearing my grandmother’s cotton dress, I’d still pick Bisbee.

  • Joanne

    Summer was the time of death and plague in New Orleans, Yellow Fever, etc. Business continued but the families departed for safer areas such as the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain and the breezy Gulf Coast of Mississippi. They built great, beautiful Victorian summer homes that the hurricanes have now mostly destroyed, though you can still see a goodly remnant.

    The women changed their wardrobe to their summer dresses at Easter, I believe, although going to white clothing is a date still in dispute with Memorial Day. Here it is most definately Easter. In women’s clothing a small pad of cotton was attached to the shoulder/sleeve to fit loosly under the arm to catch the sweat. It couldn’t be seen.

    Before the WBS, when Orleanians had lots of money, families were sent by steam ship to Rhode Island and other northern resorts to escape the summer hazzards. Later, they generally took schooners across Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf until the railroads were built in the 1870s. Then the men could leave the city too, every weekend because it only took 45 minutes by train from New Orleans to the Gulf Coast. The schooners continued for the poorer folks who could only manage weekends away on the North Shore, at Mandevile or at Abita Springs which had originally been an asylum for consumptives.

    That Degas painting is very famous in New Orleans as the home of his relatives, the Mousson’s still exists on Esplanade Avenue. Oddly, around 1900 it was broken into two houses, so you have to imagine a lot when you visit. The upper gallery where he painted a cousin in another famous painting is just where he left it.

    Some years ago, the New Orleans Art Museum (NOMA) put together a fabulous display collection of Degas’ paintings. A tour at the art gallery included a tour of the house which is nearby. A special reassesment of Degas time (brief) in New Orleans was reinvestigated. He had actually come to spend the winter and to rest his eyes, he had an eye disease, but he grew restless toward the end of his stay and painted a few canvasses.

    In my impression of the Cotton Exchange, the men don’t Look dressed for summer, although my Mama tells me that August is the month for picking cotton and that looks like freshly picked and ginned cotton on the exchange table. There were light cotton suits that wicked the sweat away from the body causing evaporation and thus a cooling effect. Still, people dressed up for any kind of business outside of the house till the 1960s in this part of the world. We always wore our Sunday best when going to New Orleans, everyone did.

    Yet, the men look as if they are dressed for warmth. A man takes his hat off inside, unless it’s cold inside. An all men office would be a place where the cold would be an acceptable reason to keep your hat on. I just don’t see the signs of heat adjustments I’d expect to see in a 19th century office in New Orleans. Even the outside window looks closed.

    But artistis paint what they want and what their patrons want and what their “publicum” expect to see and buy. A previous writer was very correct to caution us against taking a painting too literally. Many a historian has come to grief trying to prove a theory using paintings.

  • Joanne

    Summer was the time of death and plague in New Orleans, Yellow Fever, etc. Business continued but the families departed for safer areas such as the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain and the breezy Gulf Coast of Mississippi. They built great, beautiful Victorian summer homes that the hurricanes have now mostly destroyed, though you can still see a goodly remnant.

    The women changed their wardrobe to their summer dresses at Easter, I believe, although going to white clothing is a date still in dispute with Memorial Day. Here it is most definately Easter. In women’s clothing a small pad of cotton was attached to the shoulder/sleeve to fit loosly under the arm to catch the sweat. It couldn’t be seen.

    Before the WBS, when Orleanians had lots of money, families were sent by steam ship to Rhode Island and other northern resorts to escape the summer hazzards. Later, they generally took schooners across Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf until the railroads were built in the 1870s. Then the men could leave the city too, every weekend because it only took 45 minutes by train from New Orleans to the Gulf Coast. The schooners continued for the poorer folks who could only manage weekends away on the North Shore, at Mandevile or at Abita Springs which had originally been an asylum for consumptives.

    That Degas painting is very famous in New Orleans as the home of his relatives, the Mousson’s still exists on Esplanade Avenue. Oddly, around 1900 it was broken into two houses, so you have to imagine a lot when you visit. The upper gallery where he painted a cousin in another famous painting is just where he left it.

    Some years ago, the New Orleans Art Museum (NOMA) put together a fabulous display collection of Degas’ paintings. A tour at the art gallery included a tour of the house which is nearby. A special reassesment of Degas time (brief) in New Orleans was reinvestigated. He had actually come to spend the winter and to rest his eyes, he had an eye disease, but he grew restless toward the end of his stay and painted a few canvasses.

    In my impression of the Cotton Exchange, the men don’t Look dressed for summer, although my Mama tells me that August is the month for picking cotton and that looks like freshly picked and ginned cotton on the exchange table. There were light cotton suits that wicked the sweat away from the body causing evaporation and thus a cooling effect. Still, people dressed up for any kind of business outside of the house till the 1960s in this part of the world. We always wore our Sunday best when going to New Orleans, everyone did.

    Yet, the men look as if they are dressed for warmth. A man takes his hat off inside, unless it’s cold inside. An all men office would be a place where the cold would be an acceptable reason to keep your hat on. I just don’t see the signs of heat adjustments I’d expect to see in a 19th century office in New Orleans. Even the outside window looks closed.

    But artistis paint what they want and what their patrons want and what their “publicum” expect to see and buy. A previous writer was very correct to caution us against taking a painting too literally. Many a historian has come to grief trying to prove a theory using paintings.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I agree Joanne. My reaction to the painting was just a gut reaction not an analysis. The first time I saw it, I was just stunned. I guess that is why it stuck in my mind. It made such a strong impression.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I agree Joanne. My reaction to the painting was just a gut reaction not an analysis. The first time I saw it, I was just stunned. I guess that is why it stuck in my mind. It made such a strong impression.

  • Joanne

    sg #24. I too just love this painting for the colors and the slice of life that seems to be there. It was the Musson’s business and they weren’t very good at it, so money was a problem for the family. Parts of the family returned to France and that’s where much of the history of this painting (who are these people) is to be found. Even the painting itself, you will notice, went to France. Earlier, during the War Between the States, almost all of the Creole families, not the men, got on big ships and sat out the war in France, returning to much reduced conditions 5 years later. The Musson women got to know their cousin Edgar so well at that time. The business did fail not too long after this painting was made and as of today, the American part of the family is dissintegrated. The French portion still has their ancestral locality near to Pau where the painting is.

    In 1873, the time of Degas’ visit, Louisiana still had four more years to go in a Reconstruction regime. Politics was extremely corrupt and in physical turmoil. New Orleans was in the control of a Republican militia called the Metropolitan Police; it was a police state. I believe that it was during reconstruction, which officially ended in Louisiana in 1877, that most of the Creoles, they were primary the sugar planters, sold out and returned to France and by 1920 they were mostly just a memory when the Italians took over the French Quarter of New Orleans.

    How it was when Degas was here:
    http://www.knowla.org/entry.php?rec=463

    The Musson family story would be somewhat like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Plantation

  • Joanne

    sg #24. I too just love this painting for the colors and the slice of life that seems to be there. It was the Musson’s business and they weren’t very good at it, so money was a problem for the family. Parts of the family returned to France and that’s where much of the history of this painting (who are these people) is to be found. Even the painting itself, you will notice, went to France. Earlier, during the War Between the States, almost all of the Creole families, not the men, got on big ships and sat out the war in France, returning to much reduced conditions 5 years later. The Musson women got to know their cousin Edgar so well at that time. The business did fail not too long after this painting was made and as of today, the American part of the family is dissintegrated. The French portion still has their ancestral locality near to Pau where the painting is.

    In 1873, the time of Degas’ visit, Louisiana still had four more years to go in a Reconstruction regime. Politics was extremely corrupt and in physical turmoil. New Orleans was in the control of a Republican militia called the Metropolitan Police; it was a police state. I believe that it was during reconstruction, which officially ended in Louisiana in 1877, that most of the Creoles, they were primary the sugar planters, sold out and returned to France and by 1920 they were mostly just a memory when the Italians took over the French Quarter of New Orleans.

    How it was when Degas was here:
    http://www.knowla.org/entry.php?rec=463

    The Musson family story would be somewhat like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Plantation

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    I was looking for the same topic to understand how air conditioning comes into the world. I found a amazing timeline on history of air conditioning.
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    This timeline is really awesome and informative.


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