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There was a time not so long ago when people simply endured the extreme temperatures of summer or winter. At home, at work, in the car, or on the road they sweated in the summer and froze in the winter. Only the wealthiest could find afford a cool home in summer and a house that was warm in every room during the months of winter. Today you simply call the professionals at AIRzona Comfort Solutions for service or installation, and you are assured that the home, office or business is comfortable in any season.

Travel guides from the first half of the 20th century present an interesting look at the evolution of air conditioning and central heat. As you move forward in time, you can see the transition from luxury to necessity.

In 1925 the Milestone Mo-Tel Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. It truly was a milestone. And it blended the historic concept of the inn with some new. This was the world’s first motel, lodging designed with the needs of the motorist in mind.

It was the height of luxury for the traveling motorist. Most travelers stayed at railroad hotels, camped in tents at free municipal campgrounds or rented small rustic cottages without running water or electricity clustered around a gas station or general store.

The Hotel, Garage, Service Station and AAA Directory published in 1927 gives insight into what constituted luxury at the time. Premier hotels provided guests with in room baths, hot and cold running water, steam heat, and electric fans. The traveler that rented a “standard room” in hotels made use of a bathroom down the hall. For cooling the guest had an open window.

A decade later the availability of hotels was still limited, especially for the traveler in rural west and southwest. Motels and auto courts were becoming more common. But, for many motorists the options were still cabins and camping at campgrounds that offered a communal shower, screened windows, a wood burning stove and free firewood.

By 1940 there had been a dramatic transition from what had been available in 1930. Even basic motels were offering amenities that a decade before had been considered luxuries. The all new “and modern” All States Village Motel in Columbia, Missouri was a complex of forty cottages to “suit every purse and taste.” They featured tiled shower bath with hot and cold running water, fans, and thermostatic controlled heat.

Fast forward to 1954. An advertisement for the El Rancho Motor Hotel in Yuma, Arizona notes that for $5.50 per night a guest could beat the blistering desert heat and sleep in comfort as every room is cooled with “refrigerated air conditioning.” And winter evenings were just as pleasant as each room had individual room electric heat with a thermostat in every room.

A decade later, air conditioning, once a luxury only experienced on vacation, was becoming a necessity for contractors building new homes in the desert southwest. That transition from luxury to necessity, more than anything else, fueled a population explosion in desert communities that continues to this day.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America


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