Bringing refrigeration to Phoenix, Arizona
Refrigeration as a practical technology started being used in the 1930s. Obviously, the most practical use for it was to replace ice-boxes, which were literally just big boxes for food storage that had a big piece of ice placed in the top, that slowly melted and kept food relatively cool. If you ever wondered why milk and cheese was delivered door-to-door back then, it's because ice boxes really didn't work all that good. So, refrigerating food was the first step.
Refrigerating people, in buildings, was a much bigger step. Hotels, like the San Carlos in downtown Phoenix, were the first to invest in this technology. It must have felt like a little bit of heaven! Movie theaters were next, and I'm sure that a lot of people suffered through some bad movies just to cool off for a while.
If you've lived in Phoenix for a long time, you know the difference between *cooling* and *refrigeration*. Many homes built after WWII, in spite of the fact that the technology was available, were built without refrigeration, but with *swamp coolers*. A swamp cooler, which some people still use, is just a huge fan that is mounted on the roof of a house that blows air through a pad that has water drip through it. When they work well, it feels pretty good, but nothing compared to the comfort of refrigeration. And refrigeration let you do something that you couldn't do with coolers, close the windows.
Nowadays everybody just calls it *air-conditioning* - but in Phoenix, it was refrigeration!
Posted by Brad Hall