It’s hard to imagine a time where life lacked its daily comforts (to be honest, we’re glad that time is over), but we wouldn’t be where we are now without being there first. Air conditioning’s introduction to Florida did a lot more than just make daily life bearable, it affected vital aspects of culture and industry. So, let’s take a little walk through history to see where it all began.
Dr. John Gorrie, 1830s
Dr. Gorrie tended to sick and disabled seaman with the Marine Hospital Service. He would buy ice from schooners that came from the North and suspend it in bins above the heads of fever patients to cool the air around them as a way of improving comfort. When shipments became scarce and expensive, he began seeking out a new way to achieve the same effect through an air compressor. As with most invention origins, success was borne from an accident: one hot night, the engine running the steam compressor ran too long and the moisture that had condensed on the pope froze, prompting him to try to figure out how to “mechanically produce ice.” Dr. John Gorrie is regarded as the father of air conditioning and mechanical refrigeration due to his patented machine that came about a few years later.
Willis Carrier, 1902
Carrier invented the first true air conditioner in the United States. It controlled both temperature and humidity by pumping air through refrigerated coils. In the beginning, its use was restricted to industrial environments such as cotton mills, cigar factories, and breweries for practical reasons in removing moisture, although worker productivity increased as a result of the much more comfortable environments. He continued to make upgrades and changes to his design which resulted in more public use — movie theaters, banks, and department stores began utilizing air conditioning more and more.
WWII brought air conditioning to Florida until it became an integral part of the culture and life. By 1960, most hotels and restaurants offered the luxury service which caused tourism to boom; Florida was no longer uncomfortable and sticky during the summer months. By the mid-1960s, more than 40% of the homes being built contained central air. This encouraged people to forgo their “front porch” lifestyle, which involved outdoor socialization with families and neighbors and begin spending time indoors. The more businesses incorporated AC, the more people came to the Sunshine State: the population doubled in density from 1930 to 1980.
Now, two-thirds of the U.S. population has an air conditioner in their homes, with those in the south incorporating them at an understandable 97% rate. Whole industries have cropped up surrounding their care and maintenance, such as those lauded best AC companies that focus on air conditioning repair and installation. Finding an air conditioning company to stop by and perform a routine maintenance check or AC repair takes nothing more than a simple Google search.
Dr. John Gorrie likely had no idea the impact he would have on modern day society, especially in the south. With just one air conditioning company making a difference in a household’s lives, find the right air conditioning company is what matters today.