Did You Know? The air conditioning industry came of age in the Garden State.
The summer of 1902 was a particularly brutal one in the metropolitan area. The sweltering heat and oppressive humidity was especially devastating for the printing industry. Paper grew and shrank, which meant it was a slightly different size every time it ran through a color press—resulting in poor-quality images. In response, Willis Carrier (left), a 25-year-old Cornell-educated engineer, drew up plans for a machine that cooled, filtered and circulated the air and controlled the humidity. In 1914, Carrier and six other engineers pooled their collective life savings to form the Carrier Engineering Corporation. Its first customer was the American Ammunition Company, in South Jersey. Its second was the Masonic Lodge in Philadelphia, which ordered a system designed to deliver human comfort as opposed to a more productive working environment—a novel idea at the time.
In 1918, Carrier opened a research lab in Newark. After World War I, the company established its major production facility nearby, on Frelinghuysen Avenue. It is difficult to overstate the impact of air conditioning on the American experience. The ability to cool large work spaces in hot weather was a game-changer for US industry, supercharging year-round productivity. In some businesses, like meat packing, sales nearly doubled. The introduction of home air conditioners in the 1930s triggered a population shift to the Sun Belt, which continues to this day. Here’s a look at some touchstone moments in air conditioning…
Early ductwork in the pressroom of Dittman-Steidinger Printing in New York.
Appliance-maker Frigidaire quickly got into the business of residential air conditioning.
AC was a summertime game-changer for restaurants.
AC was viewed as a luxury during the Depression—and sometimes the butt of jokes.
The promise of AC in automobiles suggested a cool future.
Before AC was installed in passenger planes it was supplied by trucks on the tarmac.
By the 1950s, AC was an expensive but popular new-car option.
Early window air conditioners were designed with both fashion and function in mind.
What better way to say “I love you” than with central air?