3 ways people used to stay cool before A/C

Hey, it’s Rich Dale, and I have to confess, I’m a heat wimp.  I often wonder how, before the invention of air conditioning over a century ago, people ever settled places like Texas or Arizona.  One summer and I’d have been headed back east!  But somehow people did it.  Now days in those places, A/C is everywhere, but people were there long before A/C.  So how did they manage to survive?

  • Water fountains.  Some big city fountains were actually big troughs, like the old urinals at the ball park.  (Ugh.)  People could actually dunk their heads to stay cool.  Of course, horses and other animals used them too.
  • “Harvested” ice.  Early refrigerators worked by just putting a big block of ice in the bottom, giving them the nickname “icebox”.  And the ice man cometh every few days to bring you more ice.  That ice was actually harvested from frozen lakes during the winter and stored in naturally cool buildings.  Of course, if it was a mild winter, you might have very expensive ice the following winter.
  • High ceilings.  It makes sense when you think about it!  Heat rises, so all the hottest air would hang around the ceiling and off of you.  And there were windows at the top to let it out.

I wouldn’t trade A/C for anything.  But it’s good to know that it’s actually possible to survive, build, and further the human race without it.  In case there was any doubt.