Although Willis Haviland Carrier created the first version of the modern day air conditioner, methods of artificially creating cool air existed long before he was born.
To keep cool ancient Egyptians would dangle reeds in their windows and had a system where water would drip down the reeds. As the wind blew across the reeds the water would evaporated and create cool air. You might recognize that this is the same concept behind today’s swamp coolers. Ancient Rome had a system of circulating cool aqueduct water behind the walls of the “Elites” houses. One Roman in particular, Emperor Elagabalus, would send slaves to the mountains to gather snow to lay in his personal gardens. Persians used wind towers and cisterns as ancient air conditioners.
In truth Mr. Carrier himself developed the air conditioner not to keep cool, but rather to help relieve the air of its moisture in his muggy printing office. Carrier later recognized the commercial value of his invention and created the first mass production of Air Conditioners.
While some of the richest Americans experienced air conditioning in their homes and high dollar hotels, for most Americans their first introduction to AC came via movie theatres. Las Vegas’ own El Portal theatre (still around today as an Indian and jewelry shop located downtown) became the first commercial building to have air conditioning