Willis Carrier’s invention of modern air conditioning has been changing the way people live since 1902. Explore how his innovation helped launch entire industries, enabled new possibilities and continues to impact your life in ways far beyond keeping you cool and comfortable.
How Inventing the Air Conditioner Changed the World
Making Printing PossibleThe first modern air-conditioning system wasn’t actually created to keep people cool. It was installed at Sackett & Wilhelms printing plant in Brooklyn to address summer humidity issues affecting the printing press. Installed in 1902, Carrier’s invention kept consistent temperature and humidity in the plant, enabling the printing press to operate year-round without issues.
The Rise of Retail
In the 1920s, a series of iconic air-conditioning installations in department stores helped keep customers cool and comfortable even on the hottest days, contributing to rapid growth in the retail industry. First was the J.L. Hudson Company, Detroit's largest department store, which installed three, 195-ton centrifugal chillers.
Other sophisticated retailers in Seattle, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas and New York City soon followed.
Crate & Barrel
"Crate & Barrel operates more than 170 stores across the United States. To maintain the optimal environment for showcasing its products, its stores require four times more energy for lighting than traditional stores."
"SPAR Hungary operates over 550 retail food stores including more than 30 Spar International hypermarkets."
J.L. Hudson Company
"In 1924, Detroit's largest department store, installed three, 195-ton centrifugal chillers. Officially classified as comfort air conditioning, Willis Carrier noted, the installation was also designed "to meet an emergency as temperatures soared on basement bargain days—people fainted."
In places ranging from the Sistine Chapel to Mount Vernon, Carrier helps protect historical sites and artifacts so that they can be enjoyed by visitors for generations to come.
"In the fall of 2014, Carrier installed an innovative heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) solution at the Sistine Chapel, specially developed to help preserve Michelangelo’s masterpieces against deterioration caused by an increasing number of visitors."
"When it came time to preserve the historical residence, Mount Vernon, it seemed only natural that its curators turned to Carrier, the company founded by “The Father of Modern Air Conditioning."
National Geographic Society®
“The Lady of Ampato"
“The Ice Maiden"
"Discovery of 'The Lady of Ampato,' also known as 'The Ice Maiden,' caused a worldwide stir, and the National Geographic Society® sought to exhibit the Lady in its Washington, D.C., headquarters. To help in the transport of this delicate piece of history, they called Carrier."
Protecting the Global Food Supply
For more than half a century, Carrier has led the way in the safe, efficient transport of foods and other perishables.
Bananas, Cargoes of Expertise
"During ocean transport Carrier’s industry-leading PrimeLINE® container refrigeration units protect delicate bananas by maintaining precise temperature, humidity and air circulation."
Strawberries, Handled With Care
"As we work to preserve strawberries, we are also keeping preservation of our delicate environment in mind. Carrier transport and supermarket refrigeration systems employ pioneering environmental technologies."
Ice Cream, Sweet Side of Refrigeration
"Carrier® Transicold® transport refrigeration units keep temperatures during transport at a consistent -20°F (-29°C) – the right temperature to prevent melting while avoiding freezer burn. This ensures the ice cream is protected for safe delivery to distribution centers, grocery stores and restaurants all over the world."
From Madison Square Garden to the Olympics to the Houston Astrodome and some of today’s most iconic stadiums, Carrier has a history of helping the world enjoy sports, education and leisure through installations of specialized systems.
U.S. Open"Carrier supplied five chillers and 16 custom air handlers for a cumulative capacity in excess of 6,000 tons to meet the cooling demands of the stadium when its roof is closed."
National Aquatic Center in Beijing, China"In 2008, spectators and television audiences worldwide watched in awe as international athletes shattered world records, winning gold medal after gold medal in the waters of the National Aquatic Center in Beijing, China."
Shanghai World Expo"Carrier is in position to assist with tailor-made, energy-efficient air conditioning systems, building controls and green building services for the vibrant and dynamic city of Shanghai, including those found in three of the Shanghai World Expo’s five permanent venues."
SNØ Oslo"LSNO Oslo is Norway’s first indoor year-round ski arena. To provide cooling for its 36,000-square-meter snow-covered area, the venue selected the refrigeration experts at Carrier."
Alternative Learning School"In 1950, a school was founded in Atlanta, Georgia to give K-12 students with language-based learning disabilities and differences alternative approaches to learning. When updating its existing HVAC system to improve student comfort and ease of system maintenance, the school turned to Carrier."
Catholic University in Arequipa
"Carrier engineers helped build the permanent exhibit at Catholic University in Arequipa for the Lady of Ampato."
Madison Square Garden"Carrier would make the seemingly impossible possible including making ice at Madison Square Garden."
"One of today's most iconic stadiums."
Elevating Guest Experience & Expectations
From the Astor Hotel in New York City to the Baltimore and Muehlebach hotels in Kansas City, Missouri, the Carrier company pushed into new frontiers between 1903 and 1914.
These important installations included mechanical refrigeration and were targeted at the very earliest kind of comfort cooling—not just improving production efficiencies, but trying to make people feel better.
Orlando World Center Marriott"Renovation of existing chillers at the Orlando World Center Marriott helped the hotel’s plant become more efficient and environmentally responsible while increasing cooling capacity to cover more space."
ITC Hotel Royal Gardenia"Carrier technology and expertise helped make the 5-Star ITC Hotel Royal Gardenia the world’s largest, and Asia’s first, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum® rated green hotel."
Grand Hyatt Taipei"Carrier’s expertise in the hospitality market is not limited to new buildings. We also play a critical role in upgrading existing properties, including the Grand Hyatt Taipei in Taiwan."
Taj Palace Hotel"The Taj Palace Hotel is a 403-room property in New Delhi, India. When the time came to replace the hotel’s original chiller plant, which consisted of six water-cooled screw chiller units, Carrier was there to help."
Astor Hotel"Carrier pushed into new frontiers, selling a humidifying system to the Astor Hotel in New York City."
Muehlebach Hotels"Installations included mechanical refrigeration and were targeted at the very earliest kind of comfort cooling—not just improving production efficiencies, but trying to make people feel better."
Beginning with the first installation of a multi-story building in 1926 (the T.W. Patterson Building in Fresno, California) Carrier has helped efficiently cool ever-taller buildings – and the people inside – for nearly a century. This installation was followed by the 21-story Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas, and in 1928, the Frost National Bank in San Antonio, which was the first bank to be cooled by Carrier centrifugal refrigeration.
Today, as urbanization continues at an unprecedented rate, Carrier’s role is more critical than ever before.
Shanghai International Financial Center"While it may be one of the largest in the world, Shanghai is just one of the many cities that trust their most advanced projects to Carrier..."
Bank of China in Shanghai"Since introducing air conditioning to the Bank of China in Shanghai in 1937, Carrier has built a reputation for excellence and innovation. From airports to transportation systems, Carrier has worked with local businesses to create new infrastructure in Shanghai."
Shanghai City Hall"In the midst of Shanghai’s unprecedented expansion, Carrier has emerged as a company capable of innovating as fast as one of the world’s largest cities can grow."
T.W. Patterson Building in Fresno, California"Skyscrapers were next to benefit from centrifugal refrigeration. In 1926, the T.W. Patterson Building in Fresno, California, became the first multi-story building to be air conditioned by Carrier."
Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas"The 21-story Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas, 'the first skyscraper air conditioned from basement to roof during its construction,' engineer Logan Lewis wrote."
Frost National Bank in San Antonio"In 1928, the Frost National Bank in San Antonio became the first bank to be cooled by Carrier centrifugal refrigeration."
Enabling the Digital World
The invention of computers and the internet has created new industries and redefined our world. At every step, Carrier has helped make it possible with solutions that efficiently cool the data centers that power the internet and drive our modern global economy, and provide the precise environments needed for manufacturing increasingly sophisticated electronics.
Enabling Global Networks"Data centers are full of servers and high-tech equipment that generate heat. To operate reliably and efficiently, each piece of equipment must be kept within a manufacturer-recommended range of room temperatures, generally from 16°C to 24°C (61°F to 75°F). That’s where Carrier® air conditioning comes in."
Shanghai Futures Exchange Zhangjiang Data Center"Shanghai, a financial and cultural center of China, is a powerful engine that helps fuel the rapid economic growth of the country – and Carrier is able to innovate as fast as one of the world’s largest cities can grow."
In 1914, the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania used a Carrier air conditioning system to establish the first incubator room, providing a comfortable environment for infants. Throughout the 20th century, Carrier would expand their reach in this market by air conditioning hospitals in Mexico City and Cairo, Egypt, and later in New York City, helping the Lenox Hill Hospital use a cold diffuser in its cryotherapy room.
By 1940, the American Medical Association's Council on Physical Therapy accepted Carrier room ventilators equipped with a pollen-type filter and authorized the use of the AMA seal.
The London Clinic"Understanding the need for continuity of service, Carrier experts carefully planned the project, then completed the chiller replacement and had all systems back up and running in less than 24 hours over a weekend."
American Medical Association's Council on Physical Therapy"By 1940, the American Medical Association's Council on Physical Therapy accepted Carrier room ventilators equipped with a pollen-type filter and authorized the use of the AMA seal."
Allegheny General Hospital"The sale of modern air conditioning in March 1914 to the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was used to establish the first incubator room, capable of providing a healthy, comfortable environment for infants."
Lenox Hill Hospital"The Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City used a Carrier cold diffuser in its cryotherapy room to maintain a constant room temperature during cold temperature treatment of cancer patients."
The Memorial Day 1925 installation of a Carrier air-conditioning system at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City would change the moviegoer experience forever, giving rise to the blockbuster as a means of enjoying entertainment while escaping the summer heat.
Innovation on Film
Have you ever noticed how early movies had white specks dotting the screen? That was the result of too much humidity during the celluloid filmmaking process. Through installations in places like the Celluloid Company in the early 1900s, Carrier helped improve film quality and supported the rise of the emerging American movie industry.
Moving Comfort Forward
From railroad cars to buses to cruise ships, Carrier pioneered the use of air conditioning to keep passengers comfortable on journeys across town and around the world.