Monday, December 31, 2012

Death in Venice

If not Death, at least Major Reconstructive Surgery in Venice. Much has been written about the sale of the Venice, California post office. I'll leave you with these two articles at Save the Post Office for more information about the progression of this story.

Today I thought I'd leave you with a couple of photos of this stately building taken early September 2012. The Venice post office was consolidated into its carrier annex -- only several hundred feet away in this instance, but quite far in others.

From a distance the building looks alright. You've got two distinct (white atop yellow) colors of paint, red Spanish tile roof. The entire property is surrounded by a covered fence that's slightly more than six feet tall. NO TRESPASSING, signs declare.
Former Venice, CA post office construction

If you can peek your way through a gap in the fence, you can bear witness to the fact that the entire landscaping being torn up.
Former Venice, CA post office construction

The stairway at the front of the building has been stripped away, and the lighting fixtures have been removed. One guesses they'll be back in the future. Read the sign closely on the door, and it declares -- to no one, now -- "Customers pleased be advised that you can pick up your new PO Box and new keys at our new location ..."

And, here's a wider look.
Former Venice, CA post office construction

The new location is the former carrier annex at 313 Grand Avenue. While not far from the old Venice post office, it is further from the commercial district than its predecessor. A sign at the back entrance to the building declares THIS FACILITY IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. The front, fortunately, is more customer-friendly, if nearly completely devoid of character.

New Venice, CA post office

Inside one is greeted with new POS layouts, with rounded blue counters atop "naturally colored" plywood -- more inviting than the blue-atop-white layouts at most offices. Still, I'd have preferred the site with character.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Postal Summary

In keeping with the 2010 and 2011 Going Postal tradition of tabulating postal experiences for the year, let's see what 2012 had to offer: This year I visited an insane 2,097 [new-to-me, active] post offices across 31 states and the District of Columbia -- or about 5.7 per day. The highlight of the year was my 102-day, 17,600-mile, 1,406-post office road trip that spanned July to October. If you'd like a general sense of where I've been, you can see my counties visited map -- counties first visited in 2012 are colored yellow:

That statistic does not include well more than 150 discontinued post offices / contract locations, nor previous sites for post offices, such as WPA offices that have been sold by USPS and consolidated into other facilities. This year I made special efforts to find those locations, photos of many of which have been presented to you on this blog. For example...

Below: Denton, Texas's former early-century post office lies across the street from its present site:
Old Denton, TX post office

Below: Cleveland's Brook Park Branch post office was discontinued as part of the 2009-2011 SBOC initiative. Photographed in October, the building is now home to The Post Office Café.
Cleveland, Ohio: discontinued Brook Park Branch post office

I also made special efforts to visit freestanding processing facilities, like the Seattle P&DC (which is way too big for one photo), partly seen here:
Seattle Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) view

State by state, counting only distinct active postal locations:

Pennsylvania: 268 post offices
Focus/Foci: Northern Philadelphia Metro area; east-central PA.

Texas: 231.5*
Dallas-Fort Worth metro area; Austin; El Paso; Big Bend National Park
* Texarkana's Downtown Station lies square on the Texas/Arkansas border.

New Jersey: 212
West-central New Jersey and central coast

California: 167
Los Angeles and the Central Valley (e.g. Bakersfield, Merced, Sacramento)

Washington: 115
Olympia, Tacoma, central Washington (e.g. Yakima), Columbia River Gorge, Tri-Cities

Arkansas: 108.5*
Northeast (e.g. Jonesboro), northwest (Fayetteville), southwestern I-30 corridor

Oregon: 99
South central (Crater Lake), Eugene, Portland, Columbia River Gorge

Virginia: 92
Suburban D.C. (Arlington and Alexandria), I-81 corridor

North Carolina: 89
Western: Winston-Salem, Hickory, Asheville, mountains

South Dakota: 72
Central east-west corridor; Rapid City, Pierre, all of Sioux Falls

New York: 68
Southern tier; Ithaca, Binghamton

Minnesota: 67
Southwest Minnesota (New Ulm, Mankato) and Twin Cities

Nevada: 57
Las Vegas metro area. All of it.

New Hampshire: 57
Southern N.H.

Oklahoma: 57
Tulsa metro area

Montana: 43
Missoula, Helena, Billings

Arizona: 39

Tennessee: 57
Knoxville, Cookeville, Murfreesboro

Ohio: 37
Cleveland suburbs

Vermont: 35
Connecticut River valley

New Mexico: 30
Southwestern; Las Cruces, Alamogordo

Missouri: 28
Branson area for PMCC Convention

Iowa: 25
Iowa City

Louisiana: 13
Shreveport / Bossier City

West Virginia: 12

Maryland: 11

Massachusetts: 10

Idaho: 8

District of Columbia: 7

Illinois: 7

Indiana: 2

Wyoming: 2

2012 also noted the following threshold post office visits:
#3,000: Riverside, NJ: Delanco Branch
#3,500: Timberville, VA
Timberville, VA post office

#4,000: Killeen, Texas: Harker Heights Branch
Killeen, TX: Harker Heights Branch post office

#4,500: Bingen, Washington
Bingen, WA post office

Hope everyone has a great 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Season for Friendship

Believe it or not, Friendship is not that uncommon a town name around this fair land.

Casper, of the Friendly Ghost fame, was set in Friendship, Maine, a town so named despite various battles among the British, French, and Native Americans back in the 1750s. Located at the end of a peninsula on the Atlantic, the town was well-suited for shipbuilding. The town even has the Friendship Museum! I and two postmark collecting friends visited the town back in mid-2011.

Friendship, Maine post office:
Friendship, Maine post office

Friendship, Arkansas is a tiny town off I-30 toward the southwest part of the state. The population lies at about 200. I dropped by late one weekend afternoon this August and can't speak for the character of the residents because no one was around.

Friendship, AR post office
Friendship, AR post office

The town of Friendship, New York stretches along the southern edge of I-86 in the western part of New York's Southern Tier. It possesses a cut-of-the-mill office built in 2000, but the clerk and a couple of customers made for a pleasant chat one rainy afternoon this October. Again, Friendship belies its initial nickname, "Fighting Corners"; once the local settlers quit quarreling, the present town name was adopted.

Friendship, New York post office
Friendship, NY post office

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 Postmarks

Howdy, folks! It's the last triple-date of the century here on Earth, and the U.S. Postal Service has made available a handful of "12-12-12" pictorial cancellations for those interested in obtaining one. (Of course, you could always get a "DEC 12 2012" postmark anywhere today, but that's not quite the same, is it?) If you're interested in any of these special cancels, please mail the postal card / envelope with the stamp to be cancelled, along with a request to the appropriate postal official, to the address shown at the right. Requests must be received within 30 days. The following information about these commemorative cancels was made available in the most recent Postal Bulletin.

The first commemorative cancels comes courtesy of (what appears to be) the Western Pennsylvania District office, located with the Pittsburgh Main Post Office.
12-12-12 pictorial postmark: Pittsburgh

Several post offices in South Dakota are offering 12-12-12 cancels of their own. They're particularly nice as the pictorials present a map of the state with the towns accurately located therein. The instructions for obtaining any of these cancels is the same as above.

12-12-12 pictorial postmarks: South Dakota

I visited one of these offices, that in Buffalo, back in 2008, while heading toward the Geographic Center of the 50 States.

Buffalo, SD post office
Buffalo, SD post office

Hope you enjoy!