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Phoenix AZ 1920s How People Stayed Cool

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Willis Carrier – King of AC

1900s Cool Water Fountain

A Local Swamp Cooler

Stay Cool With Frozen Ice Blocks

Indian School Memorial Hall 1940’s

Staying Cool Under Shady Trees


Today’s Phoenix From Dobbins Point

Air Conditioning had already been invented in 1902 by Willis Carrier (pic 1 above).  The problem was that the cost was too high for the average person afford so those who (like us) could not afford A/C chose the next best option, Evaporative cooling.   

Evaporative cooling, also known s the ‘swamp cooler’ (pic 2 above) was a much more affordable option to cool homes, factories and stores and as long as the humidity stayed at bay, evaporative cooling was a wonderful luxury to have!  

Some made their own make shift manual swamp coolers by hanging sheets in one of the windows and spraying water on them and if the wind was breezing enough it would automatically produce a cooling front that would flood the whole room and if the wind was not blowing that day, a well placed fan behind the sheet would still blow enough air through producing evaporative cooled air for some relief from the brutally hot summers here in Phoenix AZ.

Compared to today, the city was quite small, in fact everything north of McDowell Rd was nothing but dirt!  The (now historic) Phoenix Indian School District which was completed in 1931 (pic 3 above), was strategically built on the corner of Indian School Rd and Central Avenue because city planners didn’t think the city would ever grow that far out toward the north!  Today of course we now how huge Phoenix has and is becoming as we see large communities growing as far as New River, Anthem and beyond.

Other ways people would try to stay cool were to hang around one of he city’s specially built water fountains (pic 4 above.  These fountains were designed to be like water-troughs approx. 2ft x 4ft  wide and 2 to 3 feet deep where people could grab a cool drink and many, especially the children would dunk their heads and more into the cool shallow pool to get some relief.

To stay cool and when the time was right, ice would be harvested from nearby frozen lakes in large blocks (pic 5 above) and kept in special ice houses designed to keep the blocks from melting.

It was not unusual to see several people taking a nap on grassy grounds under the cool plumage of shady trees on warm afternoon days (pic 6 above).

The last picture above on the right is of a viewpoint from South Mountain’s famous Dobbins Lookout Point.
If you are new to the Valley this is a must visit!  It’s a spectacular view of the whole valley at a glance day or night although especially rewarding at night by adding a surreal factor to the experience. 

On a more personal note, when I was a young man around 14 years old CIRA 1964, my 2 year older brother Robert had just become a licensed driver and together with a few other young neighbor friends we decided to borrow our parents car which was a 1962 Buick Invicta and drive up to South Mountain Dobbins Lookout Point.  

Shortly after we arrived, there happened to be an unannounced thunder storms rolling through which turned out to be a rarity.  It was not unusual for a storm to pass through the Valley without warning but this one not only dumped a lot of rain but it also blessed us with a TON (pardon the pun) of snow particularly up on that mountain while we were at the Dobbins Point.  

Now this was not just a few flakes but it literally blizzard for about 45 minutes covering the ground, cacti rocks and everything several inched deep.   It truly felt like a paradise wonder being out there in the middle of the desert on top a the only real mountain between Casa Grande and Phoenix getting snowed on like I was in Iowa in the middle of winter and I’ll never forget that experience!


Sean Gresin

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Dorena Gresin


Mark Gresin


Rob Simone
Residential Tech

Thank you for saving my sons birthday repairing our AC on time. Without you we would have postponed this very important day!
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