A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 29, 2007
Most Air-Conditioned City in the Nation (Houston slogan)

“Houston’s hot,” as the saying goes. Since the 1940s, to attract tourists and conventions, Houston has promoted itself as “the most air-conditioned city in the nation.” No statistics have been presented lately to back up the claim, but Houston certainly has a lot of air conditioning.
Wikipedia: Houston, Texas
Houston is the largest city in the state of Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States. The city covers more than 600 square miles (1,600 km²) and is the county seat of Harris County. As of the 2005 U.S. Census estimate, Houston had a population of more than 2 million. The city is at the heart of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, a major cultural center and largest economic center of the Gulf Coast region and the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. with a population of 5.3 million in 10 counties.
During the summer months, the average daily high temperature peaks at 94 °F (34 °C) at the end of July with an average of 99 days per year above 90 °F (32 °C).[29][30] However, the humidity (averaging over 90 percent relative humidity in the morning in the summer and around 60 percent in the afternoon)[31] results in a heat index higher than the actual temperature. Except near the immediate coast, winds are often light in the summer and offer little relief.[32] To cope with the heat, people use air conditioning in nearly every car and building in the city; in fact, Houston was at one time known as the most air-conditioned city.
National Building Museum
BLUEPRINTS, Vol. X, No. 3, Summer 1992
N A T I O N A L   B U I L D I N G   M U S E U M
The city of Houston would not function today without air conditioning. Computers cannot operate at high temperatures. Drugs, synthetic fibers, precision instruments, surgery, and modern office work are all dependent on air conditioning as well.
By 1980 Houston was described as the most air-conditioned place on earth (95 percent of the homes had some form of air conditioning). It was said to contribute to the city’s high murder rate because people in air-conditioned environments are isolated from the outside, out-of-touch, and become hostile.
H Texas Online
Weathering the Bayou City
It’s not the heat ... it’s the futility
by Lynn Ashby May 2005

Houston has been called “the most air-conditioned city in the world,” which is just as hard to substantiate as being called “the fattest city in America.” But we do love our a/c. You have to special order a car without air conditioning. The Houston Yellow Pages has 36 pages listing air conditioning compared to 19 pages for churches. This matter of priorities is because Houstonians already know what hell is like: an August afternoon without air conditioning. Heaven is when the repairman says the burned-out compressor is covered by warranty. All of this cold air causes an odd situation. When people elsewhere say, with fear and awe, they are going to visit Houston in the summer, I tell them to bring a sweater. “Huh?” Our restaurants and theaters are freezing in the summer. I keep a jacket in my car year-round.
14 June 1949, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 4, col. 3:
Houston boasts it is the country’s “most air-conditioned city.” Islanders enjoy the Gulf breeze and point out necessity is the mother of invention.
23 June 1952, Yuma (AZ) Daily Sun, “Yuma—Most Air Conditioned City (Per Capita) in the World,” pg. 9:
Houston, Texas, claims it has “the most” air conditioning, but conveniently omits any reference to how much PER PERSON.
16 March 1953, Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, pg. 18, col. 4:
Bluefield Scores
“Air Conditioned”
Title Use in Texas
BLUEFIELD (AP)—Bluefield, which calls itself “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City,” is challenging the propriety of Houston, Tex., using the title, “The Nation’s Most-Air-Conditioned City.”
The Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, taking note that Houston is using the slogan as a convention and tourist lure, telegraphed a protest to Houston.
The telegram read in part:
“While Houston may have most of its hotels and convention halls mechanically air-conditioned, how can you possibly compete with Bluefield where mother nature does the cooling job on a much more lavish scale?
“It ill behooves Houston…to lay claim to being the world’s most air-conditioned city when it depends on man-made cooling contrivances as contrasted to mother nature taking care of the job in Bluefield,” the protest concluded.
To back up its claim of natural air-conditioning, the Bluefield chamber serves free lemonade on summer days when the temperature climbs above 90.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Monday, January 29, 2007 • Permalink

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