The Story of Air Conditioners

All About Cooling Machines

The foremost cooling apparatus was devised by an American physician, Dr. John Gorrie in Florida. In the 1830s, he designed a fan-like machine, which blew across an ice container for cooling hospital rooms. In 1881, naval engineers built a makeshift cooling machine, which blew air through a cloth soaked in melted ice water, for the dying President James Garfield. It could lower the room temperature by 20 degrees, but half a million pounds of ice had to be used in two months and all in vain.

Until the late 19th century, it was called ‘manufactured air’ as it was used to control the humidity levels in textile mills. Cooling stations were set up in buildings storing food, beverage, beer and important documents.

In 1902, Willis Carrier, a mechanical engineer from Buffalo, designed a machine blowing air over cold coils to control the room temperature and humidity. His ‘Apparatus for Treating Air’ could lower the humidity up to 55%. The first air conditioners were heavy, expensive and dangerous because of ammonia being used as a coolant. Same year, Alfred Wolff, an engineer from New Jersey, improved the design from textile mills and used it in buildings, such as the New York Stock Exchange.

After their public appearance in 1904 at St. Louis World’s Fair, ‘manufactured air’ was installed in the printing and pharmaceutical plants, textile mills, hospitals. In 1906, Stuart Cramer, a North Carolina textile mill engineer, created a ventilating device that added water vapor to the air, making yarn spin easily. He called this process as ‘air conditioning‘.

Carrier Air Conditioning

The first house air conditioner was set up in the mansion of Charles Gates, son of a notorious gambler John ‘Bet a Million’ Gates, in 1914 in Minneapolis. It was 7 ft high, 6 ft wide and 20 ft long that was not at all used because no one lived there.

In 1922, Carrier made two breakthroughs – toxic ammonia was replaced by a safer coolant dichloroethylene and the unit sizes were reduced. Therefore, departmental stores, office buildings, started installing the air conditioners. In 1931, individual room air conditioners sitting on a window ledge were invented by H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman.

By 1946, 30,000 air conditioners were manufactured and 74,000 in 1948. In 1953 alone, one million units were sold. By 1970s, the air conditioners had a condenser coil, fan, and the refrigerant was replaced with Freon-12. But, around the 90s, Freon was linked to ozone depletion and banned in many countries.

Improvements are still being made in air conditioners that were once a technological marvel and today, a necessity.

A Tradition Of Prom Nights

Senior Prom Night

Prom night is when curfews are broken, limousines are taken for a fun ride, girls dressed in colorful gowns and boys in ill-fitting tux pose for pictures they will remember for the rest of their lives. A prom, short for promenade, was a simple banquet held for the graduating class in the 19th century American universities. But many historians believe that prom may have existed in the late 1800s. A student from Amherst College mentions an invite to the prom at Smith College for women in his 1894 journal. The prom might have just meant a senior and junior class dance.

The growing teenage culture made prom look much younger. At the beginning of the 1900s, it was just a dance where boys and girls wore their best outfit. The event called for drinking tea, meeting people and dancing. In the 20s and 30s, it turned into a yearly banquet and the youth started enjoying more freedom with the introduction of car and other luxurious items.

The post-war economy in the 50s saw the Americans enjoying more luxury and this resulted in proms being elaborate and expensive. This era also witnessed teenage girls paying more attention to their outfits and taking shopping trips in search of that perfect outfit. Gradually, competition bloomed as teenagers strut in their best dress, best looking date and car. It became a must to come with a good-looking date and being called to the prom court ensured an instant status.

High School Prom Themes

In the 80s, prom achieved a larger-than-life status because many teen movies depicted it as the coming-of-age. The title ‘prom king’ and ‘prom queen‘ achieved dizzying heights of popularity as they started being compared to royalty.

This also allowed many high schools to shun their gymnasium venues in favor of hotels or country clubs. In fact, President Kennedy had to rearrange a $1,000 fundraiser event in 1963 at Beverly Hilton as the place was booked for a prom night. The White House had also witnessed a prom night when the President Ford’s daughter held her high school prom night event.

Nowadays, students take inspiration from movies and novels to decide their prom theme. In one way or the other, prom nights have become an important event in the life of every high school student. They are expensive, all night affair, fancy dresses, enchanting ballroom have become the new standards for a prom night.

How Are Chimneys Built?

The Dawn of Residential Chimneys

Studies suggest that Roman houses had tubes within the walls to drag out the smoke. These ideas were lost after the fall of the Roman Empire. And hundreds of years later, the trend of chimney caught on in England. In the latter half of the 13th century, the hole in the roof was enclosed by a board, known as louvres. These boards were made of horizontal wooden planks, fixed diagonally and an opening for the smoke to escape. Cheaper chimneys were made of wood covered by mud, straw, cow dung that were easily prone to fire. The houses in the 1600s were a one-story room house with a central chimney.

Chimney Protection

After the Norman invasion in 1066, the concept of two-story houses became popular. Having an upstairs meant that you could no longer have a fireplace in the middle of the floor, and to draw out the smoke, the fire area was shifted closer to the wall. The holes were jabbed in the exterior wall for the smoke to escape; gradually chimney flues were made to manage the downdraft.

In the 16th century Louis Savot, a physician from Paris, suggested some minor changes for smoky chimneys by reducing the breadth of the fireplace and a need for a smoother flue for less air to enter the chimney, thus creating a strong draft.

In the 17th century, the chimneys were replaced with brick and mortar, requiring the chimneys be 4½ ft above the roof. During the Georgian era (1714 – 1830), the brick flues were built because it could handle the heat and secondly, it was difficult to cut and shape stones. Around the 1800s, chimneys were built with flues, which were 225mm, the withe (walls between the flues) was 100mm. To prevent smoke from escaping, the flues were lined with mortar, known as parging. Also, coal replaced wood as a fuel source.

Brick Chimneys & Fireplaces

Since brick chimneys could not help get rid of smoke in the house, it remained a serious problem in the 18th century. But with a better understanding of the heat in the early 19th century, chimneys evolved further. In the 1740s, Benjamin Franklin invented Pennsylvanian Fire Place to develop the competence of heating homes and the Franklin stove to burn fuel more efficiently. In 1795, he returned to England to invent Rumford Fireplace that substituted the cooking area with a shallow one reflecting the heat into the room. Instead of using the outside wall, Rumford chimney could be built-in the wall, ensuring the smoke traveled through the chimney and out of the house. Today, chimneys have become an inevitable part of our kitchen.

The Story of Tree Cutting

Tree Removal

Tree felling dates back to thousands of years because trees provided resources for the survival of mankind. During ancient times, trees were burned to the ground, making it easier to fall in any direction. This method paved way for chopping trees with stone implements, such as tomahawks. In order to  have an accurate landing, felling and tree placement, it gave rise to axe and crosscut saw.

The colonists arrived along on the eastern seaboard brought axe to America. It was used to clear-cut farmland, build houses and get firewood. In 1789, the design of the axe evolved – it had a straight handle and one short, heavy and wedge-shaped blade – providing  a balance, power and durability. The curved handles gained prominence in the 19th century. Around 1850, lumberjacks started using double-bit axes because it had two cutting edges, good balance and was durable.

Beginning of 1870s, saw the use of crosscut saws to cut logs into lengths. Slowly, they were used in a horizontal way to cut down trees. Two major inventions – raker teeth fixed by cutting teeth and gullets to carry away the sawdust and sap; tempered steel blade that would remain sharp for hours after use – helped to cut down trees easily.

By 1880, Americans replaced iron blades with cast steel. They also modified the chopping techniques brought by the Europeans. Rather than making V-cuts at the same height on the opposite side of the trunk, they made two flat cuts keeping a minimum distance between the two. This gave them a better understanding of the direction of the falling trees and reduced the utilization of wedges and levers.

Modern Tree Trimming Techniques

By the 20th century, novel designs emerged to cut various tree species, such as a crosscut saw was replaced by the lighter bucksaw in Canada and Northeast; metal tipped planks called springboard in the West, cypress logging in the South. During this time, logging business was carried out near streams and river, making transportation easy. But, with the demand for wood, the operations relocated to elevated hills, creating problems to move heavy logs. So, loggers cut smaller logs of small trees and split the logs lengthways for larger trees. They also started taking help of oxen and horses to move heavy logs.

Mechanization came in the form of high-wheel logging where high wheels were dragged by horse or ox and later by steam powered tractors. Around 1880s, the railroad was used to move logs from the woods to the mill. In 1920s, gasoline and later diesel engine crawler type tractors were used to haul logs.

Around 1870s, the power saw was built for the first time and in 1905, the gasoline-powered chain saw was put to test. These experiments were moderately successful because it was too heavy, cumbersome and not reliable. In 1927, Andreas Stihl from Germany came up with a moveable, gasoline-powered chainsaw that transformed the industry. Post World War II, the crosscut and bucksaw were replaced by chainsaw. In the 1940s, hydraulic shears emerged. By applying pressure on these blades, it could be used during the day or night, flat terrains and for small diameter trees.

Today, these new techniques and equipments have made tree cutting easier.

History of Outdoor Weddings

Outdoor Wedding Landscapes

In earlier times, the wedding was more of a commodity than love. Back then the word ‘wedding’ meant security the groom would provide for the bride after marriage. Therefore, the brides were selected based on their wealth. This trend lasted till the 19th century, when couples began marrying for love.

In the 19th century America, weddings were a simple and intimate affair held at either the groom or the bride’s home. The announcement of the wedding took place at the church, a week before the wedding. It became an elaborate affair in the 1920s and 30s when families  of the upper society started hiring professionals for wedding cakes and decoration of the venue. This trend was evolving for the last four decades, but gained popularity during the Jazz Age. Large wedding departmental stores offering merchandise for brides, wedding caterers, stamped invitations, wedding photographers became an essential part  of the wedding.

In the 60s, America witnessed a series of assassination, Beatles invasion, landing on the moon, sending men to Vietnam and rise of the hippies. The mellow demeanor of the hippies showed how a wedding can be celebrated amidst nature. Many inspiring styles emerged – cakes were decorated with fresh flowers, flowers were used as hair accessories, long and flowing dresses with bell sleeves and Empire waistlines, customized of vows and communal dining became popular.

Traditional Wedding Styles

In the 70s, women began rejecting the cookie-cutter standards of the 50s era and opting for unique ceremonies and outfits. The wedding of Tricia Nixon-Cox in the White House Rose Garden showed the world that the outdoor wedding can be elegant, beautiful and chic. The wedding moved out of the church and the thought of ‘destination wedding‘ was born.

However, this trend changed with the fairy tale wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles as it brought traditional wedding back in style. Every bride dreamt of replicating Princess Diana on her wedding day. French villas and chateaux started popping up as the venues. Many weddings started taking place in mansions – tennis court, swimming pools, etc. The trend of dream wedding continued till the 90s.

Weddings are no different in the 21st century. Today, both indoor and outdoor weddings are in vogue. The couples spend thousands of dollars on their wedding and every wedding detail is taken care by wedding professionals. Weddings have come a long way – from being a simple house ceremony to an elaborate and trendy outdoor celebration.

The Evolution of Landscaping

Residential Landscaping

It is believed that landscaping became popular during the Roman era. In fact, archaeologists uncovered evidence of Roman landscape gardens with mosaics and water fountains. However, during the middle ages, the art of landscaping got lost and emerged once again during the Renaissance period. This period witnessed some landscaping in Italy in the form of ornate villas and outdoor piazzas. It was in the 17th century France that the landscape architecture reached new heights in terms of sophisticated designs, such as Andre le Norte’s garden designs at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles.

This influenced a new generation of landscapers, as William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century England. They created huge parks, remodeled grounds of Blenheim Palace, defied the geometric importance of the French architecture to imitate nature. The only exception was Sir Humphrey Repton who focused on the formal structure of landscape design while creating the Victoria Park (1845) in London and Birkenhead Park (1847) in Liverpool. These two parks influenced the landscape architecture in the US and Canada.

The term was coined by Gilbert Laing Meason when he used it as the title of his book ‘The Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy’ (1928). Though the book was about landscapes in paintings, the name started being used by professionals such as J.C. Loudon.

Landscape Architecture

Though this profession slowly made inroads into North America, it was with Frederick law Olmsted, considered as the ‘Father of American Landscape Architecture’, that it really took off. He rejected the title ‘landscape gardener’ in favor of ‘landscape architect‘ as it described the profession better and the term was officially used in 1863. A pioneer and visionary, his works included designs of Central Park in New York and U.S. Capitol Grounds. His concept of the park was well-designed, functional, and there was ample green space amidst the gray buildings. And in 1899, an 11-member group established the American Society of Landscape Architects in New York. This society represented the architects throughout the U.S. In 1900, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of Olmsted, took the first course in landscape architecture at the Harvard University.

The movement continued to influence the architecture of the city in the 20th century, such as expansion of L’Enfant Plan in 1901. Cleveland, Chicago, started using landscape architects to develop their urban parks and residence. Around 1920s, urban planning separated from landscape architecture by starting their own degree programs. Yet, landscape architecture continues to play a major role in urban planning and design.

Nowadays, landscape architecture is practiced widely in designing and planning garden and public spaces and also for small spaces and gardens.

The Birth of Basketball

Basketball: Where It All Started

Year 1891: James Naismith, a Presbyterian minister, was asked to take a physical education class at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Since it was winter, Naismith was asked to invent an indoor game within two weeks to keep the “unruly” young boys occupied.

Naismith remembered his growing up years in Canada, where he used to play ‘duck on a rock’ – a large rock placed on a larger stone would be knocked off by throwing smaller rocks at it. He also remembered rugby players in the gym tossing a ball into the box. So, he thought of nailing up some boxes where the players would make an attempt to throw in the ball. Since he couldn’t find the boxes, he stacked peach baskets that were nailed at a height of 3.05 meters. Thus, peach baskets and a soccer ball were used to play the first basketball on December 21, 1891. Whenever a player scored a point, the game would be paused for a few minutes while someone climbed a ladder to get the ball. Since, climbing became quite annoying, they started using a wooden dowel to push the soccer ball out of the basket.

Basketball Fundamentals

Among his 13 rules, there was no dribbling, only passing and the person holding the ball had to remain in one place. If the player caught the ball while running, he was given some freedom to move and slowly come to a halt. Naismith came up with this rule to avoid injuries. The first game comprised of 9 players in each team, 30 minutes of play and the lone player, William R. Chase scored the point, 25 feet away from the basket.

The YMCA graduates traveled widely and the game caught on within 3 years. Naismith’s legacy included player like Forrest “Phog” Allen, who later recorded a 771 win as a coach at the Kansas University. One of Allen’s star players, Wilt Chamberlain, became an overnight professional basketball superstar, when he scored 100 points in a 1962 game. The early basketball was brown in color and changed to orange in the 1950s, making it easier for fans to see.

The first basketball league was established in 1898 where players earned $2.50 per game and $1.25 for playing a road trip game. The basketball in 1920s gained immense popularity and saw the formation of many minor leagues. It was featured in the 1936 Olympics. During World War II, a group of arena owners started the Basketball Association of America in 1946. The idea was to pit college athletes against each other.

After few seasons and popularity of teams from another league, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed in 1948. They played second to the college teams, but a match fixing scandal in 1949 helped the NBA gain popularity. And with the emergence of stars in each generation like Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, etc. basketball is now played all over the world.

The Science behind treating allergies

It is said that King Menses of Egypt died of a wasp sting around 3640 and 3300 BC. Another popular story is that of Britannicus, the son of the Roman Emperor Claudius, who was allergic to horses; he would develop a rash and eyes would swell. King Richard III used his allergy to put Lord William Hastings to death. He ate strawberries and blamed Hastings of placing a curse on him. Even the Roman philosopher, Lucretius, observed that food can cause allergy. However, the era of allergy started with an explanation of hay fever in the 1800s.

1819: Dr. John Bostock described hay fever as a disease affecting the upper respiratory tract, with symptoms including running nose, sneezing, itching of the throat and nose, watery eyes.

1869: Charles Blakely, suffering from hay fever, decided to perform a skin test by applying pollen on a cut in the skin. His test showed how pollen sensitivity can lead to hay fever. Today, there are different ways to test skin allergy, but following the same principle. Blakely found the cause of his allergy within 20 minutes.

1902: The term ‘anaphylaxis’ was coined by Charles Richet and Paul Portier, who found that medicines and protein substance can cause a reaction. Those sensitive to peanuts, shellfish, penicillin, bee stings, can result in Anaphylactic shock leading to vomiting, cramps, blood pressure, etc.

1906: The word ‘allergy’ was used first time by Clemens von Pirquet, an Austrian pediatrician, to explain the symptoms associated with horse serum used to treat diphtheria patients.

1911-14: Leonard Noon and John Freeman came up with allergy shots or immunotherapy. Small dose of substances causing the allergy was injected in the body to develop immunity against that substance.

1937: The antihistamine drug synthesized by Daniel Bovet and his colleagues found that it also protects against anaphylaxis symptoms. These days, antihistamine drugs treat hay fever, itching, swelling and other rashes.

1948: Corticosteroids was introduced by Philip Hench and Edward Kendall to treat asthma, delayed and instant allergic reactions.
1953: Researchers James Riley and Geoffery West found that mast cell granule is the major cause of histamine. They conducted a test on Judy, a 10-year-old cocker spaniel, recording the highest histamine content in a canine body.

1967: Kimishige and Teruko Ishizaka explained that body when constantly exposed to allergens, produce IgE antibodies that attach to the mast cells releasing histamine.

1980s: Professor Bengt I Sameulsson, won the Nobel Prize, for identifying leukotrienes as a mediator in triggering asthma, allergy and swelling.

There are still various tests being done to diagnose allergic reactions.

The study of sleep disorders

Insomnia was first reported in the ancient Egyptian texts, where opium was used to treat the  sleep disorder. In the 17th century, medicine underwent a change from the doctrines of Aristotle, Galileo, to more scientific theories. It was against this background that neurologists Thomas Willis and Thomas Sydenham came up with principles and practice of clinical neurology. Willis contributed to the knowledge of various sleep disorders, including Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), nightmare and insomnia. He identified that an element in coffee can prevent sleep and sleep was not a disease, but a symptom of underlying causes. In his book, ‘The Practice of Physick’ (1692) he devoted four chapters to disorders producing sleep and insomnia. He also discovered that laudanum, obtained from opium, could treat RLS.

Many theories developed in the late 19th and early 20th century. In 1913, French physician Henri Piéron published his study in the book, ‘Le probleme physiologique du sommeil’, suggesting that sleep problems are due to physiological reasons. In 1918, William Osler associated the connection between obesity and hypersomnolence and coined the term ‘Pickwickian syndrome’. This term is now used for patients with obesity and hypoventilation.

Sleep deprivation

In 1920s, Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, also known as ‘Father of American Sleep Research’, began work in Chicago quizzing about sleep and circadian rhythms. His work concentrated on characteristics of sleep and the effect of sleep deprivation. In 1951, Dr. Kleitman’s student, Dr. Eugene Aserinsky made an important sighting of rapid eye movements in sleeping infants and later in adults. The experiment was further supported by the application of Electro-Oculography that helped them record bursts of electrical changes connected with eye movements. This finding was published in 1953 explaining REM sleep.

Sleep Apnea

In 1965, the researchers Gastaut, Tassinari and Duron in France and Jung and Kuhlo in Germany, independently published reports on Sleep Apnea, the first evidence of sleep associated with daytime sleep disorder. They observed patients with excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, abnormalities in breathing while asleep. Then in 1970, Tassinari and Lugaresi in Bologna established the link between Sleep Apnea and non-obese patients.

The first sleep center, established at Stanford University in 1972, carried out polysomnography for the first time. Sleep study was recognized by the American Medical Association in 1996, which gave an enormous boost to study on sleep disorders in North America and other countries too. Today, sleep research consists of areas like narcolepsy, sleep and cardio-respiratory; circadian rhythms, shifts, sleep deprivation, sleep and aging, infant sleep, etc.

The hair-raising tale of hair straighteners

Straight hair popularity

Long and straight hair has been popular since ancient Egypt. The earliest proof of hair straightener can be attributed to Parisian Marcel Grateau who invented a heated rod in 1872 with metallic teeth. But in 1906 Simon Monroe became the first person to patent the flat iron. Then, Isaac Shero came up with a hair straightener comprising of two flat irons, heated and hard-pressed together. He patented his invention in 1909. Around 1912, Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield merged the ideas of Grateau and Shero to come with two plates heated iron held together with a hinge. Her flat iron bears a close resemblance to today’s hair straightener.

Despite these inventions, heated equipments could not straighten the hair permanently whereas chemical relaxers could do so. Around the 1900s, an Afro-American woman by name CJ Walker came up with her line of hair care and beauty products and encouraged women of her community to use hot irons to straighten their hair. Every single Afro-American model covered in the magazine, sported straight hair that led to a debate among Christian ministers, Civil Rights Leaders, and nationalists. They saw it as a sign of self-hatred, while their wives got their hair straightened. It was after seeing politician Booker T. Washington’s wife’s hair, CJ Walker joined this industry.

The 1950s saw the rebirth of straight hair trend. Women and girls would help one another iron their curls. They used clothes iron by placing it on an ironing board. Though harmful, this procedure proved helpful and is still used in many countries. End of the 70s era saw the trend of straightening hair being replaced by other styles such as cane rows and dreadlocks.

Once the trend of trying different hair styles ended in the 80s, women once again started opting for straight hair. Beauty companies caught on to this trend by marketing hair straightening products. The “not-so-expensive” hot plates were encased by plastic handles, and some companies offered additional plates to create different shapes.
Gradually, the iron plates were replaced by lighter metals and equipments where heat can be controlled. And in 1995, Japanese hair expert Yoko Yamashita came up with Japanese Hair Straightening to permanently straighten human hair with chemicals. Other hair smoothing treatments includes Keratin Treatment, Brazilian Treatment, are being used today to style your hair the way you want, provide nourishment, and add that shine that has been missing for long.

Grand parties in the history

The legendary bashes

If you thought Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and event parties and entertainments were the only wildest party in the history, then you might be mistaken.

  1. Russia, 1903 - In February, Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra threw a grand party in their official residence, Winter Palace, St. Petersburg. The theme was the 17th century, and guests arrived dressed as Russian, French, Spanish monarchs and some as musketeers. Precious stones and artifacts were brought from the Kremlin for the guests to wear them. The hosts were dressed as Tsar Alexis I and Maria Miloslavskaya. To entertain the guests, a concert was held in the Hermitage theater in the palace, followed by Swan Lake, and Russian dance. The dinner was held in 3 big rooms – Italian, Spanish and Flemish. The bars served liquor; tea and wine were available on every table. The Baroque music was played by court orchestra and for the last time, photographs were taken with all the Russian nobles.
  2. France, 1911 - Paul Poiret was a Parisian fashion designer who emphasized on drapery instead of corsets for women. On June 24, 1911, he introduced a new fragrance line, Parfums de Rosine, by throwing a party in his own villa in Paris. The theme for the evening was Persia, where 300 guests were dressed in Persian style. Poiret was dressed in fur dapper ankle length dress, jewelled turban. His villa was decorated like a sultan’s harem with palm trees, tents with food, and gold.
  3. Paris, 1923 - Sara and Gerald Murphy, friends of the Beaumonts, threw a party on July 1 for Igor Stravinsky after the successful premiere of his ballet Les Noces at the Théâtre de la Gaîté on June 13. The party was all about food, drinks and decor. Chefs from the best hotels in France were hired to cook on-site with an overflow of champagne. The venue was filled with toys, clowns, dolls, stuffed animals. The guests included Pablo, Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and others. The party went all night on a flat-bottomed boat on the Seine River.
  4. Paris, 1924 - Beaumont were known for their lavish parties in Europe and North America. The masquerade ball held at their mansion in the summer of 1924 was known for its bizarre theme – the guests had to dress like a car. The performers ran around in the banquet hall, making the sounds of the vehicle. The party became so popular that the French cuisine and continuous flow of wine and champagne in the party soon became part of the Raymond Radiguet’s novel. Another wild party of theirs was hosted in the 1920s where guests had to expose a part of their anatomy that he/ she felt interesting.
  5. New York, 1966 - The success of Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ found him basking in the money and the next three months were spent planning a masquerade ball and hired a event entertainment company. The theme was black and white and held at the Plaza Hotel, New York. Selected friends were invited to the party, such as Henry Ford Jr., actress Candice Bergen, sister of Late John Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Vivien Leigh. The fare comprised of his favorite dishes scrambled eggs, spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate, pastries, to name a few. There were water and 450 bottles of Taittinger champagne for the guests.

From Rome to United States, history of backyard stone patios

History of backyard patios

Stone patios, a substantial space included in the houses, originated in the atrium of the ancient Roman villas. Thanks to the Romans, water was incorporated in patios and it was the Arabic that changed the patio into a hub for social gathering. The Andalusian patio originating in Persia and Arab in the 15th and 16th centuries was made of palm branches and roof of straw and branches.

The word patio comes from the Spanish word meaning ‘back garden’ or ‘backyard’. The open courtyard in a building was one the main features in the medieval Spanish architecture. Sevilla Cathedral (1402 – 1506) and the ducal palace at Guadalajara (1480 – 92) made of natural stones are good examples of Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The concept of patios was brought to Latin America by the Spanish for domestic purpose. The Mediterranean courtyard also became an inspiration for garden landscaping and it was eventually, integrated with patios.

The culture of patio in houses became synonymous post World War II as people migrated to the suburbs. The backyard became an extension of the house – a place to relax, cook and entertain. For the 50s American family, the patio was like a postage stamp patch of concrete that had a picnic table and grill. The trimmed grass lawns, automated sprinkler system, pesticides and herbicides to maintain the lawn took a toll on the nature that eventually led to the creation of the backyard patio with natural stones.

The 1970s was a boom time for house construction in the U.S. that were built with timber decks or patios. The steps to the patio were either made of reinforced concrete with a plaster finish or natural stone. The Balustrades and railings were much lower and had a lot of space than what is allowed today.

Patios are made from paving slabs that are made of concrete or natural stone. Natural stone patios has been used since ancient times because of its beauty and durability. The texture and color of the natural stone made it a popular material for the patios. Compared to concrete patios, there was no color fading, it lasted a lifetime and there was no treatment required after installation. Natural stone such as slate, flagstone and cobblestone complemented the natural beauty of a backyard. The stone patios incorporated into different styles provided designs from rustic to classic to formal. Today, patios can be made using other surfaces like brick, tile, block paving, etc.