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3 photos that will make you extra grateful for air conditioning

Be glad the days of ice-block licking are over.

The Library of Congress has compiled its best pictures of people cooling off before the popularization of air conditioning (window units didn't become available until the 1930s). People beat the heat in lots of creative ways, including licking giant blocks of ice like animals, as seen in this picture from the early 1910s:

It's hard not to worry about stuck tongues.

It's hard not to worry about stuck tongues.

Library of Congress

Other ice solutions were probably more common. This picture shows what we'd call shaved ice today: a man selling scraped ice, with some flavors available. The ice was scraped straight off the block:

Getting scraped ice on a hot day.

Getting scraped ice on a hot day.

Library of Congress

People had many other strategies to keep cool, too. For example, during the brutal 1911 heat wave New Yorkers hunted shade, stayed in one place as long as possible, and crowded available fountains.

And there were other unusual institutions that had surprisingly high demand in the 1910s. This picture shows a huge crowd outside a building in New York's Tompkins Square Park:

A line outside the ... milk house?

A line outside the ... milk house?

Library of Congress

That long line was for the ... milk house. A milk house was a place where families could buy cold — and fresh — milk instead of the rotten, warm milk often sold on the streets.

This summer, be grateful we don't need ice blocks or milk houses — ice cream works just fine.