Cooling Bus Drivers

Vintage Summer: Beating the Heat

Before there was A/C there was ... desperation.

Modern life can often feel overwrought with technology and devices that leave us feeling hostage to the constant demands of notifications and beeps. But before we romanticize our way to simpler times, let's take a moment to be grateful for one technology of modern times that has undoubtedly changed our lives for the better: Air conditioners. Home air conditioning didn't become popular in the United States until the 1950s and wasn't commonplace until the 1970s. Before then, heat waves were inescapable, sweaty, and, to put it lightly, pure misery. Here, a look back at how people got creative in order to beat the heat.

Hats Off Topical Press Agency/Getty Images Hats Off Men cover their heads with newspapers to protect them from the summer sun, 1913. Hot Pants Hulton Archive/Getty Images Hot Pants A woman models the "heatwave costume" from Paris, 1919. Hose Head Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images Hose Head Getting hosed down during a heatwave in Paris, 1928. Made in the Shade Fox Photos/Getty Images Made in the Shade A cockatoo rests under a tiny umbrella, 1928. Sitting Pretty Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Sitting Pretty Chilling in an ice box in New York, 1929. A Friend in Need Fox Photos/Getty Images A Friend in Need Kids cooling off in the sandbox, 1934. To the Rescue Hulton Archive/Getty Images To the Rescue A group of children get hosed-down by a fireman in London, 1935. Makeshift Pool E. Dean/Getty Images Makeshift Pool Taking it easy in London, 1936. Ice, Ice Baby Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Ice, Ice Baby On ice in Coney Island, 1936. Remote Office Topical Press Agency/Getty Images Remote Office Typists work in an open air swimming pool, 1937. Street Shower Charles Fenno Jacobs/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images Street Shower Fire hydrant turned into a makeshift waterfall, 1937. She's Got This Bettmann/Bettmann Archive She's Got This Lounging on the porch, date unknown. Night Moves Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images Night Moves A New Yorker sleeps on the fire escape of his building in the Lower East Side, 1943. Fashion Statement Visual Studies Workshop/Getty Images Fashion Statement Improvised shade in Kent, England, 1930. Hot Dogs Keystone/Getty Images Hot Dogs A Parisian soaks his feet outside a cafe, 1950. Chasing Waterfalls Hulton Archive/Getty Images Chasing Waterfalls Kids hide from the heat under a sheet of water, 1950. Soak It Up Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Soak It Up A Texan does what she can during a Dallas heatwave, 1951. Lounging Streetside Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Lounging Streetside A man soaks in a plastic pool with his clothes on during a New York swelter, 1955.

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