When the pleasant temperatures of spring give way to the blistering heat of summer, it is difficult to imagine life in the Colorado River Valley without the luxury of air conditioning. Today transforming the home or office into a delightfully cool deasert oasis is as easy as calling the experts at AIRzona Comfort Solutions, Bullhead City’s premier air conditioning company.
Not so long ago air conditioning was more than a luxury, it was a scientific wonder. It’s applications were limited only by the imagination. And Willis Carrier was a man with a very active imagination and vision.
Most people would be giving thought to retirement at age 66. But Carrier was not most people, and his country had been pulled into a world war.
In 1942, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics was in dire need of a custom an air conditioning system for a wind tunnel in Cleveland, Ohio. This was crucial for aircraft development. And it had been deemed a technology impossibility. But the contract was awarded to the Carrier Corporation. A few years later, in an interview about the project, Willis Carrier said, “The task seemed impossible when I first tackled it.”
But Carrier had been pushing the envelope of of air conditioning technology for decades. In WWI he had created the revolutionary system for the Atlas Powder Company. And then he devised a unit to make ice at Madison Square Garden.
The sytem created for the wind tunnel was the first in a series of contributions to the nations war effort. A fully automatic Carrier refrigeration plant was designed for the Patrick Henry, the first of more than 150 ships designed to transport cold stores for troops in the European and Pacific Theatre.
Carrier and a hand picked team surpervised the removal of air conditioning equipment from major stores and theaters throughout the country including Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Washington, D.C., Marshall Field’s in Chicago and J.L. Hudson’s Michigan stores. The equipment was modified, upgraded and installed in crucial war industry manufacturing facilities such as B.F. Goodrich in Texas and Pratt & Whitney in Kansas City.
Carrier equipment systems were developed and installed at hospitals with laboratories working to develop vaacines and medicines for plagues such as malaria. By 1945, engineers at Carrier had developed an array of advanced reciprocating compressors. They had also created systems that were practical for small freezer application, and industrial units for commercial automotive apllications.
This was the foundation for a dramatic post war transformation of almost every aspect of American society. New busses, and trains, were air conditioned. Families flocking to modern suburbs bought refrigerators as well as chest freezers. In the desert southwest, officces, theaters and stores began installing air conditioning systems.
And soon, even homes were being outfitted with air conditioning. The desert became a destination as its infamous heat was now little more than an inconvience as people darted from air conditioned office to air conditioned car and then to the air conditioned home.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America