Glancing Back: The Fourth Estate

August 15, 2001
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Back to the Future

In the August 18, 1952 News, there was a story on Time magazine’s August 11 article celebrating air conditioning’s 50th anniversary. As part of the article, Cloud Wampler, then president of Carrier Corp., made some predictions about air conditioning.

Wampler thought that air conditioning sales would more than double between 1952 and 1962, and that during that time frame, there would be 5 million houses with single-room coolers.

Man will forget, stated Wampler, “the day when he used to wrestle windows up and down, fight with screens, adjust radiators, and try to pacify furnaces. He will simply set a thermostat and forget it.…The nonair conditioned house is today’s horse and buggy.”

According to the article in Time, Wampler envisioned fully covered, air conditioned streets reserved only for pedestrians.

“The motorists,” said Wampler, “would use the roofs of the streets for driving their air conditioned cars. When we get to that point, we’ll get away from the one criticism we’ve met with — the fact that people don’t like to walk out of an air conditioned building into the terrific heat.”


You’re imagining things

This commentary originally ran August 18, 1969, under the headline “Air Conditioning Gives Me a Headache”:

“Customers and clients say it and we ignore it because the headache is all in their head. This air conditioning engineer cannot ignore these complaints any longer because air conditioning gives ME a headache.

“I think I get them when the air conditioning system is producing low relative humidities. Or, they could be an allergic reaction to fungus growth on coils. Something is causing them and the time has come to stop dismissing the complaints and to start listening. Please someone or somebody start a research program — aspirin upsets my stomach.”



In the August 19, 1974 issue, an article pointed out how essential air conditioning had become by that time all over the United States. By 1974, people were beginning to expect public spaces to be air conditioned.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that 285 mentally challenged patients in the St. Louis State School and Hospital sweltered while the air conditioning couldn’t be installed until the buildings were rewired.

The state office of administration later declared an emergency to get the 42 units installed rapidly.

The Kansas City Star graphically showed that city hall workers drooped in the heat, while the purchasing department had trouble obtaining fans. The city’s union employees worked on a drive to have city hall air conditioned; they pointed out that it was the only large office building downtown without air conditioning.

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