Monday, February 28, 2011

Not Just NE-Where

The postal abbreviation for Nebraska used to be NB; of course, that caused conflict with Canada's New Brunswick. So, in November 1969 NB became NE. Some postmasters got creative and realized that if they took a knife to their postmarking devices, they could convert NBs to NEs. For many years many Nebraska postmarks bore the remnants of this process.

I spent just one night in Nebraska on my trip cross-country. It was during the weekend and I spent the evening in a ($44/night) motel in Hastings. The town was substantial though I never visited its post office.

Here are a few photogenic offices from my Sunday in Nebraska:
Eagle, NE

Weeping Water was a quaint town with the most washed-out stop sign I've ever seen, at an intersection entering town. Two signs proudly announced the town as the home of the 2000 state wrestling champions and the 1961 state basketball champions. The town church featured stained glass windows; the masonry featured brown markings that could have passed for either burn marks or water stains. Here are a few photos:

Signage; entering Weeping Water, NE

This Wikipedia page gives a nice origin of the town's name. It comes from a French misinterpretation of an Indian word for the river which runs past the town.

The winds really whipped up that day, helping my gas mileage as I was driving east. At one point, winds sweeping across the plains reached 65 mph.

The building next door to the post office in Union, NE collapsed 15 minutes before I arrived to leave a postmark request for the Postmaster. Police closed the main street and a significant part of the town turned out, including the town's (county's?) treasurer. A couple of months earlier, the town had bought the building for $12,000 for an elderly community center. It had no roof before the collapse; I believe some town members insisted on getting insurance on the building beforehand.

Here's a photo from the scene:

The only municipal building in the town of 260 is the town's one-room jail, constructed in 1916 and recently inducted into the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo below:)

The town has a fantastic Facebook page documenting news and events -- including a night spirits tour of the town, which includes said jail.

Friday, February 25, 2011

DPO'd: Bridgeton, NJ & General Edition

Today marks the known last day of many offices around the country. As of tomorrow, these post offices will cease to exist:
  • Boston, MA: Logan Airport Retail
  • Bridgeton, NJ: East Side Sta.
  • Gary, IN: Brunswick Station
  • Indianapolis, IN: West Indianapolis Sta.
  • Las Vegas, NV: Strip Sta.
For those interested parties, here are some further updates I've compiled from USPS news releases and local news reports from around the country:
  • Akron, OH: Maple Valley Station closed Feb. 19
  • Ashley, PA [branch] closing March 26
  • Boston, MA: Boston University Sta. closed Feb. 11
  • Bridgeton, NJ: Seabrook Branch closing Mar. 25
  • Bronx, NY: Crotona Park Station closing April 22
  • Cincinnati, OH: Cumminsville Sta. closed Jan. 31
  • Cincinnati, OH: East End Sta. Station closed Jan. 31
  • Cincinnati, OH: Madisonville Sta. closing March 1
  • Cincinnati, OH: Newtown Branch closing March 1
  • Cincinnati, OH: Reed Hartman Sta. closed Jan. 31
  • Eugene, OR: EMU Sta. closed Jan. 14
  • Fort Smith, AR: Rogers Ave. Station closing March 26
  • Little Rock, AR: Aerospace Finance closed Feb. 11
  • Little Rock, AR: Pleasant Ridge Sta. closing March 26
  • Macon, GA: Macon Mall Sta. closed Feb. 15
  • Roanoke, VA: Williamson Road Sta. to close March 20
  • San Antonio, TX: Cresthaven Sta. closing April 2
  • San Antonio, TX: Nimitz Sta. closing March 19
  • San Antonio, TX: Station A closing Apil 16
  • Spartanburg, SC: Pinewood Sta. closing March 16
  • Syracuse, NY: Carousel Center Sta. closing Apil 1
  • Syracuse, NY: Elmwood Sta. closed Jan. 28
  • Warner Robins, GA: North Sta. closed Feb. 15
  • Willingboro, NJ: Willingboro Plaza Sta. closed Feb. 11

I made the point of visiting southern New Jersey last weekend to visit the two offices in Bridgeton that are getting discontinued. Here are their photos:

Bridgeton, NJ: East Side Station
Less than one driving mile from the main Bridgeton post office. MANY box users; two people in line before me when I visited on Tuesday; just insufficient to justify its existence so close to the main PO. When I visited the main Bridgeton office, workers were installing new PO boxes to replace those that would be lost from the East Side Station.

Bridgeton, NJ: Seabrook Branch
A very photogenic office. It used to share the building with a bank, which then closed. I couldn't determine a discernible residential community that it served; Deerfield Street (yes, that's the name of the town) post office less than two miles away.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Invisible Post Office; Portland, OR

Add one more to the DPO files. You might notice I've made a lot of posts lately memorializing post offices that have been... lost. I make an active effort to seek them out, especially if I can find out about them in advance. Sadly, they are all too many of them. Despite the fact that there are only 36,000 post offices in the United States, compared with about 115,000 at the postal service's peak, thousands will continue to close.

Ironically, those closings will mostly occur in the communities that need them most: small rural towns and depressed urban neighborhoods.

In any case, I've always said that I consider the post office to be the embodiment of many a community. So I think an article is a fitting tribute. And besides, I've not yet 'posted' about my visits in Oregon!

DPO'd (my coined verb for 'discontinued post office'): Solomon Courthouse Station; Portland, OR. It's yet another 'Hit List' facility. Date of visit: March 2010. Last day of service: 1/28/11. See the USPS News Release here.

Why was it closed? My suspicion is that nobody knew about it. It's not that the post office was incredibly difficult to get to; it's just that nobody knows where it was or even that it existed. As this fantastic article from 2004 notes, the building chosen for this downtown Portland post office is a protected national historic landmark. Meaning? It's incredibly difficult to, say, mount any signs on the exterior of the building.

That issue was known back at the opening of the facility in 2004; yet in 2010 there was still no signage of which to speak. See for yourself:

Beautiful building, no? It would be a shame to deface it, I suppose. It seems they might have had sidewalk signage, as seen here, but I sure never came across any.

I arrived at the post office toward the end of lunch. (It was a one-man operation, meaning the post office closes for a lunch hour or two.) By the time it reopened, there were five people in the line -- myself included, for postmarks, of course.

Footsteps in the hall echoed with grandeur; the Gus J. Solomon United States Court House was a public work built in the early 1930s. A post office had resided in the Pioneer Courthouse, a few hundred yards away. That lasted for over 125 years until 2003. Solomon, too, had a previous iteration of its own post office; it was replaced by University Station in 1984; now University Station has once again absorbed its operations. Reputedly (or, according to the article above), University Station has some long lines.

Noting that photos of the Solomon Courthouse post office already appear in multiple places online, I'll publish my own here!:

Below is the facility replacing it, University Station. I arrived there just before closing on a Saturday. (Okay, technically, AFTER closing on a Saturday, so there was no line. They were friendly enough about giving me a cancel for my collection, anyway. I'm just good like that.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's in a Name: Quinton

First, I'm happy to announce this blog's 1,000th hit, as well as my 1,700th postal facility visited. The rate of visitation to Going Postal has been accelerating lately. It's nice to see!

Once you've begun to visit [insert excessive number of] towns and post offices, you begin to notice some repetition to their names. As of yesterday, I've now been to three Greenwiches (CT, OH, NJ -- a story for another post), two Salems (OR, NJ), and two Quintons. The latter seemed like an odd name, but it actually derives from the Old English for "Queen's town".

Both Quintons I've visited are reasonably photogenic facilities and both possess fantastic four-bar postmarks. Presenting Quinton, Alabama and Quinton, New Jersey:

Quinton, AL: [map]
It's reasonable to say this town, about 20 miles northwest of Birmingham along I-22, is in the middle of nowhere. The town doesn't even have its own exit on the Interstate. What it does possess, however, is an adjacent church and post office. I passed by on a Sunday to leave a note for the Postmaster; the church was still in session. You can see folks parked between the two buildings in this photo:

Quinton, NJ: [map]
This town and its bridge, near the Delaware River roughly 30 miles south of Philadelphia, was the focal point of a Revolutionary War battle in early 1778. (The colonialists won the battle, though lost nearly a couple of score men.) Currently, the post office is next door to the town's general store. And yes, it's yellow.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DPO'd: 'Cin' City Edition

From this news article by the Cincinnati Enquirer, a map of the FIVE post offices that Cincinnati, OH is losing during the first few months of this year. They were all on the consolidation 'Hit List'. (A sixth loss, the Stock Yards Station -- also on the list -- was closed toward the end of last year.) The article's map is shown here:

Edit 2/26/11: Apparently, the Cincinnati Enquirer deletes the links to its articles after a certain date. Shame, it was an informative article and map.

I obtained all five/six postmarks, though I only visited three of the offices during my trip to Cincinnati last October.

1. Newtown Branch: Serving a small but upscale community. It's a hilly community, and the neighborhood's [flat] main stretch is known as a speed trap. Next closest post office: 2.1 miles (CPU) / 3.1 miles (classified office).

2. East End: A large but poor community. I arrived at this office after hours, so can't comment how well it was used. The signage is yellow, and is difficult to see on white; it actually says "U.S. POSTAL SERVICE // EAST END STATION // CINTI, OH 45226". Next closest post office: 2.2 miles.

3. Reed Hartman Station: A conundrum of sorts, in what one might consider a commercial park district. It was in an office building with absolutely no signage that would indicate that a post office was inside. It had a BEAUTIFUL postmark and there were people using the station, but I suspect it could not make revenue with the fact that it was so difficult to know it was there to begin with (which might explain why it was only open about four hours a day). Next closest post office: more than 2 miles.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post Offices of the Redwoods

I made reference to the Redcrest, CA post office back in this early Going Postal entry. Thought now might be a nice time to document the rest of the post offices along the Avenue of the Giants -- a beautiful stretch of road paralleling Rt. 101 in northern California. Here one can see some glorious primeval forest; small towns; a drive-through redwood; and, of course, some authentic small-town post offices.

Presenting another view of the Redcrest, post office; and, making their feature debut on Going Postal, the offices of Weott, Myers Flat, and Miranda! (The purple office of Philippsville, another town just down the road, was featured in this entry.)

Redcrest, CA

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love is in the Air-Mail

Ah, yes, it's Valentine's Day. This means that those Cupidly inclined can send letters to love-theme-named post offices for either re-mailing or the application of special romantic cachets. Here's a News Release from USPS about the largest such operation, in Loveland, CO.

Loveland's Downtown Station was renamed Valentine Station a while back. Here's a photo of it from October 2008:

(Loveland's main post office and Valentine Station were the first two post offices I respectively visited in Colorado!)

[Edit: 2/14/12:]
For those curious, current Valentine's pictorials can be found in the Philately section of the [2/19/12] Postal Bulletin.

This year's crop includes a dual pictorial by both Romeo, MI and Juliette, GA; Romance, AR; Loveville, MD; Hartville, NY; and several Valentines across the nation (including Valentine, TX, which is being studied for closure as part of RAOI).

Monday, February 14, 2011

DPO'd: New Jersey Edition

Recently, Paterson, NJ lost two stations, both of which were on the consolidation 'Hit List'. I particularly enjoyed the Hillcrest Station -- note the tenant above it!

Hillcrest Station, Paterson, NJ:

River Street Station, Paterson, NJ:

Both offices seemed relatively well-used when I got to them in April 2010, but they were in poor neighborhoods and so they likely did not make sufficient revenue. Sad.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DPO: Philly Edition

On April 22, 2011, three post offices in Philadelphia will close. They were all on the consolidation 'Hit List,' and I documented all three when I visited the city in December. Here are photos of the offices in question:

1. Girard Avenue Station

Wissinoming Station has some particularly unique and beautiful signage; though it's only a mile from its parent / "sister" Tacony Station, it's a shame to see this office close. The office was being used by a man in a wheelchair at the time I visited it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Centering in...

I'm pleased to report that this blog received the astounding sum of 225 hits on February 7. Seems like there are plenty of bagel lovers out there!

Back during my 2008 cross-country road trip, I had the pleasure of visiting the geographic centers of both the 50 United States (northwest of Belle Fourche, SD) and the 48 contiguous states (just northwest of Lebanon, KS). I happened to visit the latter at dusk on a Saturday and left a note at the office asking for a postmark (which came back and was quite nice).

When I visited the town, I noticed that many of the buildings were abandoned, decrepit, and falling apart. In fact, a building just next door to the post office had been bulldozed (see photo, below). Since it's at the geographic center of the 48 states, could one call this the "collapse of Middle America"?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Only in New York: a Post Office in a Bagel Shop

Setting: Broad Channel, Queens, NY.

View Larger Map

Broad Channel is a community of 3,000 people that lies on an island in the middle of Jamaica Bay, a tad southwest of JFK International Airport. The inhabited part of the island is about 1,000 feet wide and centers on Cross Bay Blvd., which connects the town to Howard Beach and the Rockaways. The rows of houses along side streets are separated by water; people fish off their back decks and many have boats. (See satellite view, below.) Surrounding land/water is managed by the National Park Service and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

There are traffic lights on Cross Bay Blvd., and one of the peculiarities of the community is that left turns are permitted at most intersections on red after a stop.

The community has not had a classified (run-by-USPS) post office for a long time. The closest classified offices are Far Rockaway's Rockaway Beach Station (1.2 miles) and Jamaica's Howard Beach Station (3.8 miles). The former might not sound like too far a distance to travel; but note that the Rockaways lie across a toll bridge.

For many years a contract postal unit (CPU) had been located on Broad Channel in Wharton's Pharmacy. The building was beautiful, but the business went under last year. The CPU officially closed May 21, 2010, though the store lasted for a couple more months. Here's a photo of the building in July 2010:

As of mid-December Broad Channel again has a CPU. The new contractor is The Bay-Gull Store on Cross-Bay Blvd. between 17th and 18th Rd. Next door is the Broad Channel branch of the Queens Library. So yes: it's effectively a post office in a bagel shop. Only in New York.

The owner, Pat W., is an ambitious entrepreneur who bought the building last year and keeps adding new aspects to his shop. Currently there's the bagel shop out front; ices along the side (during the summer); the CPU in the back; and groceries to come. Here's a little album from my visit there yesterday:

The Bay-Gull Store; Broad Channel

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DPO'd: La Guardia Airport Post Office

The Postal Bulletin announces that the post office at New York's La Guardia Airport saw its last day on December 31, 2010. It's another one that was expected, since it had been on the consolidation 'Hit List' for over a year.

I was questioned by Postal Police for taking these photos in September '09 and warned that I couldn't publish them. Now, as a New Yorker I'm as concerned about security as anyone; but since the post office is now closed and these photos no longer pose a perceivable threat, here we go!:

Airport post offices have been easy targets for closure by the postal service since they don't service or represent residential communities, and so people are less attached to them. In fact, the post office at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta -- which was usually open 18 hours a day and held hours seven days a week -- was discontinued just two days ago! (Jan. 31, 2011.)

The facility seemed to be used by pilots and other aviation staff members, as well as businessmen catching flights. The post office took in $120,000 annually. Here was signage noting the possibility of closure at LGA back in 2009:

For the record...
The address represents the USPS Triboro District office; it is in charge of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island post offices and mail processing. Its spray-on cancel reads "TRIBORO NY 112 // BKLYN QNS STATEN ISL // [[date]]"; 112 being the three-digit prefix for offices in Brooklyn only. (The Triborough Bridge in New York City, for the record, connects Queens, Manhattan, and The Bronx! This "Triboro" exists in postal name only.)