Interesting post on the mental_floss blog about the advent of air conditioning in homes. It recalls ways people kept their houses cool without air-conditioning, and then mentions another architectural feature that was a way people stayed cool:
The front porch was an alternative to hot homes, and became a means of social interaction. If you weren’t sitting on your own porch in the cool of the evening, you could stroll the neighborhood and visit other families sitting on their porch.
On hot nights, the porch was a cooler place to sleep. Apartment dwellers would sleep on the fire escape when it was unbearably hot indoors. The widespread use of the automobile, television, and air conditioning killed the front porch as a social institution.
I never thought of air conditioning as the culprit to the demise of the front porch, but I do see the connection. As it is, I hope to spend more time outside when we have a house, porch or no. Grilling out, working in the garden, and inviting friends around the trendy "outdoor fireplace" (bonfire pit!) and making smores are all on my list to enjoy. Maybe, this way, I 'll fight the tug of the television, drawbridge (attached garage), and air conditioning, and encourage the community- and relationship-centered philosophy that the Front Porch symbolizes.