“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air–moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh–felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia, and the mystery smell of the river scented the atmosphere, amplifying the intrusion of organic sleaze. It was aphrodisiac and repressive, soft and violent at the same time. In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, miles from the barking lungs of alligators, the air maintained this quality of breath, although here it acquired a tinge of metallic halitosis, due to fumes expelled by tourist buses, trucks delivering Dixie beer, and, on Decatur Street, a mass transit motor coach named Desire.”
TOM ROBBINS, Jitterbug Perfume
It is summer and that means temperatures climb into the upper 90’s. The added humidity stews the city of New Orleans in triple digits. Window units struggle to keep up and going outside is a daunting task. So let us have a moment of silence in remembrance of those brilliant souls that brought us air conditioning.
Air condition (that modern marvel) began its cooling journey in 1820, when Faraday discovered that ammonia when liquefied and compressed could cool down an object enough to freeze water. The first to coin the term “air conditioning” was Stuart Cramer, who created a ventilating device that added water vapor to the air of textile plants. In 1914, the first air conditioning unit was installed in the mansion of Charles Gates. It was 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long. In 1931, H.H. Schultz invented the individual room air conditioner. Air conditioning did not become widespread until the 1950’s.
Thank you to the powers that be that, we in the modern era can cool down in dark bars where refreshing concoctions are served up on ice.
Crescent City Historic Tours