While early movie theaters were astoundingly popular with audiences during cooler months, attendance fell drastically in summer. Thanks to Willis Carrier, whose first modernized system in 1902 proved to be a success, the Carrier Engineering Corporation laid groundwork for today’s creature comforts. Production studios of the time owned most of the nation’s theaters and, in turn, experienced a grave loss of profits through sweltering summer temperatures.
In 1917, a movie house in Chicago owned by the Balaban Brothers opened its doors advertising cool air, but it was a crude, noisy setup. On Memorial Day of 1925, the first Carrier air conditioning unit debuted at New York City’s Rivoli Theater in Times Square. As part of the Paramount Pictures Corporation chain, the Rivoli’s cool interior was a hit. Theater-goers flocked indoors as much for relief as for the showing, sparking a clamor nationwide for this amazing concept.
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