It figures, but history shows us yet another way Brooklyn was cool, like, forever–though this particular example is a bit more literal. A classic New York City heatwave was just enough to turn up the Brooklyn ingenuity in a junior engineer named Willis Carrier, who devised a system of fans, ducts, heaters, and perforated pipes that became the world’s first air conditioner. The problem: blistering temperatures that were literally melting the equipment in a Williamsburg printing house. The solution was one that had eluded centuries of inventors through sweltering summers. The system was installed in the summer of 1902, according to the New York Times, and Carrier went on to found Carrier Corporation. He had hit on the idea while walking in the fog.
Above: Children turn a Lower East Side excavation site into a pool using water from a fire hydrant. 1936. Image via Bowery Boys
Last week, temperatures in New York City peaked in the mid 90s but with the humidity index, afternoon to early evening temperatures felt more like 105 to 113 degrees. The combined temperature and humidity index prompted an “excessive heat warning” for the city and sent most residents indoors to take refuge in air conditioned homes and workplaces. For those less fortunate, the city opened designated cooling centers. Under such dire conditions, it’s natural to wonder, what was summer like before the invention of air conditioning?
We’re going to take a quick detour from our mega-expensive, extravagant homes, and spotlight a pad that we think demonstrates the heart of New York City. New York is artsy and quirky and marches to the beat of its own drum. People walk the streets in all types of personal style, restaurants like S’mac and Peanut Butter & Co that are dedicated to one food attract patrons from all over. This city is one of a kind. So, we’re going to show you a one-of-a-kind apartment in a little neighborhood we like to call the East Village.