5 ways people stayed cool before air conditioning was invented
By By Brian Lada, AccuWeather Meteorologist
July 04, 2016, 12:11:11 PM EDT
As summer heat builds, more people will rely on air conditioning units to keep cool.
However, before air conditioning existed, people had to be creative when trying to stay comfortable in sweltering conditions.
Here are five different ways that people across the United States beat the heat in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Water fountains were very different in the 1800s and early 1900s than they are now, but they still provided an easy way to cool off in the summer.
Some fountains in big cities were built as large troughs so people could do more than just take a drink of water. On a hot summer day, they were an oasis where people could submerge their heads to stay cool.
While fountains like these made it easier to find some relief from the heat, they also made it easier to contract an illness.
Not only were many different people using these fountains, but sometimes horses and other animals would use them as well, often rendering them unsanitary.
With an eye on the summer heat, people would harvest and store ice blocks during the winter to be used in the warmer months.
Having ice available in the summer took some planning before refrigeration was available.
People would have to harvest ice from lakes that were frozen over during the winter months. The ice would then be stored in naturally cool buildings, called ice-houses, where they would sit before being distributed months later.
Using ice to cool down on a hot summer day was efficient, but it was not always reliable due to the variability of winter weather.
If there was a mild winter, not as much ice would available to harvest, making it a rare commodity months later when the heat would build.
However, in frigid winters, more ice would be available to harvest, making the ice cheaper and more accessible during the summer.
Creative architecture was another way to prevent indoor conditions from becoming stifling and uncomfortable.
Because hot air rises, some buildings were built with high ceilings. The hot, rising air would then escape through windows near the ceiling to create a natural air flow.
Front porchesArchitects also incorporated front porches onto houses to give homeowners some relief from the heat.
People could then sit outside during the evening and early in the night when it was cooler.
The porch eventually turned into a place to socialize with friends and family while cooling off after a long hot day.
Napping in the shade
Possibly the simplest way to beat the heat before air conditioning was to take a nap in a grassy area under a tree.
Trees can be found almost everywhere, even in the heart of New York City and provide plenty of shade for people nearby.
Taking a nap in the afternoon also meant not doing any strenuous work during the hottest part of the day, reducing the threat of dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 3:21:07 PM EDT
A lunar rainbow, one of the rarest types of rainbows, appeared during the super worm moon earlier this week.
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 12:42:06 PM EDT
The colorful festival of Holi celebrated by the Hindu community marks the beginning of spring.
In case you missed it: Pence assures Midwest flood victims as damage tops $1 billion; 50,000 visitors overtake California town to see vibrant superbloom
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 11:39:12 AM EDT
Flooding in the Midwest has put entire towns underwater and forced thousands to abandon their homes while a cyclone in southern Africa became one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region in decades.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica to inundate Australia's Pilbara Coast with life-threatening flooding
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 1:17:16 PM EDT
Lives and property will be in severe peril later this weekend and early next week along the northwestern coastline of Western Australia as Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica slows down and unloads extreme rainfall.
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 2:42:11 PM EDT
A storm forecast to spread rain from the Mississippi Valley on Sunday to the Atlantic coast on Monday may end as a period of snow from parts of Ohio to parts of Massachusetts early next week.
Australia faces a dual severe tropical cyclone strike this weekend starting with Trevor in the Northern Territory
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 1:29:34 PM EDT
As Veronica threatens to cause a flood disaster in northwestern Australia, the dangers to lives and property are expected to expand well away from where Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor makes a dangerous strike on Australia's Northern Territory early this weekend.
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 12:24:17 PM EDT
The winter of 2018-2019 will go down in the record books for being the wettest on record due to relentless rain and snow, so AccuWeather ranked the cities that were buried under the most snow this winter.
Cyclone Idai flood catastrophe: Estimates of more than 1,000 dead as 'inland ocean' forms in Mozambique
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 10:21:37 AM EDT
More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique and Zimbabwe as the flood catastrophe caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai continues to rage. Drier weather is expected to finally return later this weekend.