We'll admit it: We were considering passing over Willis Carrier as our candidate for an On This Day post, because we thought he was a little boring. Ho-hum, he invented air conditioning. Big deal.
But then we saw that PBS had declared him one of the innovators who made America, and we sat up a little straighter and paid attention.
Because really, if you think about it (and we're ashamed that we hadn't, initially), air conditioning did help define America, and the rest of the world. Even if that's hard to remember as November ticks away into December.
Indoor climate control is a feature that some of us (blush) take for granted, but without Carrier's modern air conditioning, population patterns and even our individual houses would look very different. "The spread of artificial climate control in the second half of the 20th century triggered major, long-term demographic and architectural trends," PBS says. "Sun Belt cities like Atlanta, Georgia, and Houston, Texas, boomed, attracting businesses and workers by the thousands. House design shifted from features that facilitated natural cooling -- porches, high ceilings, cross ventilation -- to spectacular additions like glass doors and large windows. And iconic, modern glass-walled skyscrapers rose across the nation."
And that is pretty cool.
- Willis Carrier
- air conditioning