The heat…the humidity…there is simply nothing like the swampy air we swim through every summer. I sometimes think I have grown gills just so I can go outside to my car to go to work in the mornings. When I think about what life would be like in Houston without air conditioning, I simply cannot imagine, and neither could our predecessors.
Looking at the two graphs above, it becomes clear that the population growth of Houston parallels that of the popularity and availability of air conditioners in homes. The first graph shows the number of households that had air conditioning by year. Beginning in 1970, air conditioning in homes really began to take off. Looking at the second graph, the population growth in Houston also takes off beginning in the 1960s and 70s. In 1940, Houston, with a population of about 385,000, had only about 400 air-conditioned homes. By 1955, the city recorded 130,000 residential air conditioners, and the numbers continued to grow.
“The first place consumers encountered air conditioning was in movie theaters,” said Cooper, author of “Air Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960,” and an expert on the history of technology.
By the 1960s, air conditioning had become a way of life in Houston. The first baseball game in an air-conditioned domed stadium was played at the Astrodome, and visitors to AstroWorld were delighted by frigid blasts from outdoor vents.
It is safe to say, without air conditioning, Houston likely would not be the fourth largest and the greatest city in the nation.