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1903: The Williamsburg Bridge Opens
Just five years after Brooklyn was incorporated into the city of New York, a monumental change that would affect the narrative of Williamsburg occurred—the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge. The connection between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side of Manhattan was one that would characterize the population shift that would happen in the Brooklyn neighborhood. With the bridge came a flood of immigrants from the tenements of the Lower East Side, and soon, Williamsburg became the most densely populated area in the country.
And as intolerable as the densely packed tenements of turn of the century Williamsburg must have been, a new invention had just been patented in the neighborhood that could have made the close quarters a bit more bearable. In 1902, Willis Carrier invented the first air conditioner in a printing factory on Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg. This invention would come to revolutionize how and where Americans could live, and it all started on the second floor of a paper company in Brooklyn. I, of course, don't have an air conditioner because of a perverse sense of accomplishment that I get each September when I realize that I managed to keep my Con Ed bills ridiculously cheap. It's the little things, you know?