Without Willis Carrier’s 1902 invention of the air conditioner, we’d have a very different world. And it would have started with missing out on opportunities for indoor cultural experiences in the summer when people are most commonly off from work and school.
Carrier’s original design was meant for a publishing company in Brooklyn that needed to keep its paper from expanding and contracting so it could achieve proper print quality while it was hot and humid. But not long after that, businessmen saw the opportunities to add it to factories (which technically cut off some summer break for workers who could now work more safely in the summer) and then to department stores. The real cultural moment came when it was added to movie theaters in the mid to late 1920s and regular theaters in the 1960s.
For example, Carrier’s company put an air conditioner in Lincoln Center in 1961. This extended the performing arts season in New York City from “a single season to 52 weeks a year,” according to the Carrier website.
For more cool facts and stories about the history of air conditioning, check out:
Slate, “A History of Air Conditioning”
JSTOR Daily’s “Can We Live Without Air Conditioning?”
BBC, “How Air Conditioning Changed the World”
Source: “The History of Movie Theaters and Air Conditioning That Keeps Film Lovers Cool” — WPLF