It was 115 years ago today that Willis Haviland Carrier signed a set of mechanical drawings which, soon after, became the world's first modern air-conditioning system. And it was five years ago that we published Weathermakers to the World, telling the story of Dr. Carrier and his namesake company.
Below, I've chosen 15 pictures that tell the story of modern air conditioning.
|3. I have a lot of favorite stories from Weathermakers, but this might be the best. It was on a foggy evening in 1903, on a train platform in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (captured here by Ripley in 1939), that Willis Carrier conceived the idea that he could dry-out warm, humid air by passing it through water--specifically, fine droplets of a cold water spray. This spray could create a far larger surface area for condensate than metal pipes, and had the distinct advantages of cleaning the air of dust, and avoiding the nuisance of rusty pipes. |
To this day, it's difficult to convince some people that a good way to dry air is to force it through water.
If you happen to be in Pittsburgh and want to visit the spot of Carrier's famous insight, have a meal at the Grand Concourse Restaurant at Station Square.
|10. Carrier's success during World War II in meeting wartime contracts earned the company an "E" award plus five stars for excellence--one of only 14 companies to receive this distinction. Carrier product was installed in airplane and instrument factories, and for food preservation onboard ships and on the battlefront. A number of Carrier's early, large comfort installations--from Macy's (above), Tiffany & Co., Lord & Taylor, and Gimbels in New York--were reinstalled as process air to support wartime production in facilities like B. F. Goodrich in Texas and Pratt & Whitney in Kansas City.|
|14. Today, air conditioning is so ubiquitous that we forget how hard it continues to work keeping our world productive and comfortable. |