How Belk kept shoppers cool before air conditioning

“[In the late 1800s] fan systems — steam-driven, then electric — became the norm for the well-dressed department store. But they offered little in the way of cooling…. Belk Brothers of Charlotte, North Carolina, maintained a barrel filled with ice water at their store’s front entrance; five tin cups were tethered to the barrel for customer convenience.”

— From “Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything” by Salvatore Basile (2014)