Source: Library of Congress LC-D4-16345.
Unloading a Banana Ship, New Orleans, 1903
By the late 19th and early 20th centuries cold chains began to be
set. The banana trade was an important driver of this transformation
since it represented a perishable good that could be produced in large
quantities and thus required mass conveyances. As long as the cargo
could arrive in good condition to consumption markets, buyers could
readily be found. Thus, the banana trade was dominantly constrained by
distribution, more than by supply or demand. On the above photo, unripen
banana bunches are being manually unloaded from a ship at the port of
New Orleans. This was a labor intensive process prone to spoilages. A
refrigerated rail car (using ice as a coolant) is waiting to be loaded
and bring bananas to inland consumption markets (up to Chicago).