Think cool thoughts!

July 5, 2018


Remarkably, the technology for cooling air did exist in the Victorian Era.  As early as the 1880s, factories were installing primitive air conditioning systems to cool the machinery.  The relief felt by workers in these controlled environments was purely accidental.  By 1889, cooling systems with human comfort in mind were being installed in other large public buildings.  Carnegie Hall, for example, was furnished with a cooling system that utilized large racks of ice stationed inside air-supply ducts.  Air moving over the ice was cooled then moved into the building via gravity.  As the cool air fell onto the people inside the hall, the hot air rose and was re-cooled.  This system did provide relief from the heat but was extremely expensive and labor intensive.  Workmen were stationed at the ice racks to replace melted blocks throughout the performance.


Willis Carrier invented the forerunner of our modern air conditioning systems in 1902.  Carrier graduated from Cornell University with a Masters in Engineering.  He soon put his degree to use as he developed a system that utilized a chemical refrigerant (a toxic and flammable ammonia) and a centrifugal compressor.  It wasn’t until after the 1930s that air conditioning systems for the home were introduced and became widespread.


Although it was not air conditioned in Dr. Physick's day, his home does have air conditioners today to accommodate our visitors. So, it's a cool place to visit, in every sense of the word!