The Cool Factor: Air Conditioning’s History in Images

This article is a collection of pictures from different time periods depicting the various ways people have attempted to create forms of air conditioning along with other pictures depicting the air condition in popular media. For example, the first picture in the set is a sort of “air-conditioned bed”, in which a person would lay in bed and have cold air blown onto them. Nowadays, this wouldn’t seem very pleasant; however, not only were people very limited when it came to ways to cool themselves down, the bed also serves as good looking furniture as opposed to just a brand-new invention. Another interesting piece of history this article explores is that of President James Garfield’s recovery after his attempted assassination. One of the challenges was to keep the president’s room a good temperature for him not develop any infections or other illnesses. The White House was apparently flooded with donations of cooling machines, with everyday citizens wanting to help their president. The device used went through 436 pounds of ice per hour. Another thing I personally found very interesting was that starting in the 1910s, subway trains were equipped with fans to cool the cars. I would have never thought of this, since such an idea would be very out of place in today’s world.

This article will be very helpful in writing my essay. The article provides a great concise but detailed history of different cooling mechanisms. The pictures will be most valuable in evaluating the history of air conditioning. Another very valuable resource would be the book Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything, which this article is based off. This article also raised a few more questions for me. When I read about the subway trains having fans, I was kind of surprised because I would have never thought of something like that. I wonder if people had similar reactions like that back in the day. Or did the excitement of not having to deal with the heat outweigh any skepticism about air conditioning?





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