Photo: Sept 15th 1911 - How did people cope with heat?

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The first air conditioned private residence in Houston was 1932.

In Manassas, Virginia, the historic Portner residence (Annaburg Manor) , built in 1890, is supposedly one of the first air conditioned houses in the country:


However, nobody seems to know about any details of how this air conditioning system worked. There's been claims that the design was patented, but no patent numbers or any other details.

I think it's a typical case of embellishing history to make it appear more than what it was, which was probably a fan and a block of ice.
 
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Or the fact that far, far, far fewer young children are dying because of what are now preventable afflictions.

People lived to be a ripe old age back then darn-near as often as we do now; but when more people than not don't see their 5th birthday, your averages suffer.

Saw an economist working through on legacy media (which was a surprise) that the "average lifespan" and "average years of retirement" was a scam...surviving childhood and indeed childbirth and you get your number that hasn't changed markedly.

Go to an old cemetary, and there are so many under 5s, and women 16 to 25...then nearly everyone gets old bar an accident.
 
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You acclimate to some degree. In the South of Germany it gets pretty hot and a lot of places still don't have AC especially private residences and even smaller hotels - they don't believe in it. They also don't like ice in their drinks.

Loose weave wool at the time breathed much better than modern cotton. If you want real good hot weather undergarments, look up Icebreaker merino wool. There sold as cold weather underwear but there loose fitting stuff wicks in high heat really well - and doesn't smell.

Buildings were designed to handle heat - higher ceilings - windows across from each other. In city buildings sleeping on the roof was a thing.

The stereotype of lazy southerners comes a lot from people sitting on the porch in the day. They were sitting on the porch mostly because it was too hot to do anything but sit.
 

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Decades ago - I recall seeing huge cracks in our fertile black land … Haven’t since then …
 
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There are also photos from St Louis about that time where folks slept outside in the cooler night air because their brick homes got unbearably hot. So one way to deal with the heat was to go outside where there was a chance of a breeze, etc.
Our Winnipeg house which was built between 1928 and 1930 had a sleeping porch. It was a small room, off the 2nd floor master bedroom, with screens (or windows) on 3 sides.

Winnipeg's summer nights are quite hot. It doesn't cool off much and there's not much for a breeze. Sleeping in the sleeping porch would be better than nothing, but not much.

You do get physiologically adapted to heat. My wife, who doesn't sweat, started to sweat in Winnipeg.
 
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People are living longer now because we have better nutrition.

Women don't often die in childbirth any more. And little kids don't die of polio, meningitis, pneumonia, croup, measles, etc. Young adults don't die of appendicitis, meningitis or pneumonia. The workplace is safer. Older people don't always die of heart attacks or cancer. Heart failure can be treated. Diabetes is a major inconvenience instead of a death sentence. Kidney transplants are almost routine nowadays. Strokes (all 3 types) can be stopped if caught soon enough. Women with breast cancer don't always die from it. There is screening for bowel cancer and good treatment. If your prostate obstructs you can have surgery instead of dying of kidney failure. And so on.

And yes, there is better nutrition too.

Add it all up and, on average, people are living longer. But a really old person would have been about 105 - 107 years old way back when, and that's still about as far as anyone makes it today.
 
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I lived in an old stone mill building for 20 years without A/C. The last 25 years I've lived in two different old brick homes with some limited window A/C. Both stone and brick really hold the heat or cold and not at the desirable times.

My family visited my great aunt and uncle a few times in Waterloo, Iowa a few times in the early-mid 1960's A sweltering place on a summer night. They had a screened sleeping area on their home as did others.

When I look at old Civil War pics, I've often thought of how crazy hot some of the troops were in their heavy woolen uniforms. Especially in the heat of battle and marching.
 
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The first air conditioned private residence in Houston was 1932. It wasn’t until the 50’s that it was considered a middle class necessity.
We're well off and have never had air conditioning. Our heat pump (which we've had for about 6 years) will cool the house, but cooling alone is not air conditioning. And we almost never use it for cooling anyway.

In Edmonton our neighbour turned on his air conditioner at the end of April or early May, closed all his windows and left the air conditioner on 24 hours a day (cold days, cool days, nice days, warm days, hot days) until the end of October. Whether they were at home or away on vacation. I thought that was a waste of money and energy. In hot weather, we opened our windows at night and closed the house up during hot days to keep our well insulated house cool.
 
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*LOL*
Heat is heat, cold is cold, and todays snowflakes are snowflakes.
Back then you were happy to wear a suit, meant you had a job, could support a family and a roof over their heads.
No one else (other taxpayers) will support you and they didnt complain about every little thing that they could not control.
They enjoyed life and were proud of what they had while they were living.
And died at 49
 
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You can probably do without it there.

Try doing without air conditioning south of the Mason-Dixon line.
I agree with you.

When we lived in Saskatoon we learned to open and close the house so as to take advantage of the cool night air. In the evening as the house is warming and the outside air is cooling, when the temperatures equal you open all the windows to take advantage of the cool evening air. You leave the windows open all night. It can actually get quite cool overnight. In the morning as soon as the temperatures inside and outside equal, you close up the house again until evening.

That approach works quite well unless you have many hot days in a row. I think that the attic gets hot which makes it hard to cool off the house at night. It wouldn't work if it wasn't safe to leave windows open all night or if there was no one home to open and close windows. We also have the advantage of well insulated houses with double (or even triple) pane windows. Our current house has tall trees all around and wide soffits that keeps the sun off the windows during much of the day. And we're close to the water (the North Pacific) which helps cool the air at night.
 
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I agree with you.

When we lived in Saskatoon we learned to open and close the house so as to take advantage of the cool night air. In the evening as the house is warming and the outside air is cooling, when the temperatures equal you open all the windows to take advantage of the cool evening air. You leave the windows open all night. It can actually get quite cool overnight. In the morning as soon as the temperatures inside and outside equal, you close up the house again until evening.

If you try that here, assuming it's actually a cool night (sometimes it won't get much below 80F overnight), you'll just fill the house with a bunch of humidity that your AC unit will then spend the next day working extra hard to remove.

However, all is not lost, because if is IS a cool night, your AC unit won't care about the high outdoor humidity and will move more BTUs using less energy (I see as much as 1kW difference between 90F outdoor and 70F outdoor, and that isn't accounting for the additional BTUs being moved at 70F outdoor).

So my strategy in the summer is to lower the temp to about 72F starting at about 11PM, hold 72F till about 8AM, then let the temp rise to 80F as the day goes on (it usually never gets there, it might reach 78F by 11PM--my house is well-insulated with few west-facing windows).

This avoids my air conditioner running during the hottest part of the day.
 
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I lived in an old stone mill building for 20 years without A/C. The last 25 years I've lived in two different old brick homes with some limited window A/C. Both stone and brick really hold the heat or cold and not at the desirable times.
The first home I ever lived in with A/C was in 1980. And only because I paid to have it put in. (I purchased it without in 1976).
 
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Our Winnipeg house which was built between 1928 and 1930 had a sleeping porch. It was a small room, off the 2nd floor master bedroom, with screens (or windows) on 3 sides.
Our old house built in 1913 in Wolseley area of Winnipeg had a room over the attached garage that had three sides with windows. That room was a summer only room as it was always freezing cold in winter and we were too cheap to heat it as we didn't need the space. Never thought about it but it was a nice room in the summer with a lot of air moving through it.
 
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Homes had high ceilings and transomes over their doors. Many houses had cuppôllas for natural air circulation. Attic fans were big deals then too
 
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Tallyho Coaching Sioux City party Coaching at the Great Hot Springs of Dakota in 1889. Photograph taken by American photographer John C. H. Grabill.

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