Travel to Summer in the 1900s

Edwardian woman in a white dress playing croquet

Travel to Summer in the 1900s

Melina Druga
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Edwardian woman in a white dress playing croquet
During the summer, the color of choice was white

Ah, summer. For many of us, it’s our favorite season, and one that in the dead of winter feels like it will never arrive. But what was summer like in the past? If you could take a time machine and travel back 100 or 115 years, what would you see?

Upon arriving in the past, you will notice that many of the activities we enjoy today such as fairs, picnics, outdoor sports, ice cream and amusement parks also are enjoyed.

You will notice a number of differences as well.  The air will smell strongly of horse manure. The arrival of the automobile helped alleviate the problem, but there are still many horse-driven vehicles. The smell is one of the reasons why the wealthy leave the city to travel to their summer homes.

The following are some other differences you’ll notice during your time travel adventure.

Ice Delivery

An ice delivery wagon in front of a house.
An ice delivery man bringing a block of ice directly to a home.

There are no refrigerators. People have ice boxes to keep food cool. The ice man delivers ice to homes and businesses via a cart.

The ice is nothing like the shredded pieces you can buy in a 21st century grocery store. It is an ice block, measuring approximately 24 inches by 18 inches and removed from the cart using a large hook.

Ice is harvested by ice houses during the winter months, stored in large buildings and transported to populated areas via boat or railroad. It is sold by the pound.

In rural areas, properties may also have an underground room that stays cool enough year round to preserve food and dairy.

Sleeping Porches

A sleeping porch with a bed, table and chair
A turn-of-the-20th-century sleeping porch

During the first half of the 20th century, air conditioning is primarily found in public buildings. Homes, especially the upper floors, can be extremely hot during summer. To solve this problem, many properties have sleeping porches.

The porches are screened in and are roomy enough to accommodate full-sized beds. These are built in the back of the house because they are intended to be seen only by the home’s residents.

In addition to being more comfortable for sleeping, the porches are thought to be more hygienic, providing fresh air to tuberculosis patients and others who are ill.

Apartment dwellers obviously didn’t have porches, but the fire escape makes a good substitute on summer nights.

If you are affluent enough, you can beat the heat by taking a vacation or going to the lake or seashore to go swimming.

Summer Fashions

During the summer, fashions change. It is common for both men and women to wear white during the warmer months as it is cooler.

It’s the Edwardian era, and women have begun to wear short sleeves and necklines, baring their arms, neck and upper torso. These fashions were among the first to liberate women from constricting clothing.

If you really could time travel, where would you go? Leave a comment below.

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Updated: 15 August 2018

Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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