Monday, February 20, 2017

A Treaty of 1794, and the Canadian Post Office Accessible without a Passport

Along the far northern border of New York with Canada (Québec) lies a bit of an oddity: a Canadian post office that you, the everyday American citizen, can drive to from the U.S., mail your letters from in Canada, and re-enter the States without having a passport or passing trough Customs. This anomaly is due to a jut of land passing barely through the 45th parallel—the line that defines the border (+/- some surveying error) between U.S. and Canada in Vermont and eastern New York—causing a wee bit of Canada to be attached to the United States. Driving from this little bit of Canada to another point in Canada? Gotta pass through the U.S. first. Check out this map; you can zoom out to get a greater sense of the landscape as well:

The land, known as Saint Régis or Akwesasne, is part of the Mohawk Nation; it is a (reservation) territory that straddles both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Our particular point of interest is located 20 minutes northeast of Massena, New York and about 75 miles southwest of Montréal. For this little spit of Canadian land, the only way in or out is through the U.S. This, combined with the 1794 Jay Treaty, which affirms that Mohawk members may pass freely across the United States-Canadian border, means that the border is not built up with Customs and Inspection infrastructure. What are you going to do, build a wall, or stop and inspect people whose houses lie on the border, who have only one means of exiting and entering a 0.2-square mile piece land in a close-knit Native community? Not a chance. The crossing is "free"; you can cross back and forth between the U.S. and Canada at this little point, and you have a choice of U.S. Post Office or Canada post office when it comes to mailing.

On the U.S. side is the Hogansburg post office, ZIP code 13655. Located just off the Akwesasne reservation and just off New York Route 37, is of a standard late-century design and is staffed by friendly personnel. It is located 2.0 miles from the Canadian border.

Hogansburg, NY post office:

Heading north you'll be hard-pressed to identify the actual border between the U.S. and Canada. The best visual identification stems from the speed limit sign seen here:

Located a few hundred feet beyond the border (and actually visible in the photo above) is the Akwesasne, QC Canadian post office (postal code: H0M 1A0). It is found in the Angus Mitchell Memorial Community Centre with an -r-e. Oh yes, you're really north of the border now!

Akwesasne, QC post office:

Here's a look back into the U.S., actually at an Akwesasne school bus stop, from just inside the Canadian border.

So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed this little slice of Canada and of trivia! (Notes: Al Jazeera provides insights into the lay of the Akwesasne land, borders, and governance here. An official, detailed map of the reservation, which also extends into Ontario, can be found here.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

This is Sparta!! (And Milledgeville, Georgia)

Milledgeville and Sparta, Georgia are two county seats respectively located 50 and 30 miles northeast of Macon. They also have two similar post office / Federal Buildings from the 1960s I thought would be interesting to show.

Almost nothing about this building says "post office." I drove clear past it once, even knowing exactly where it was supposed to be. A modest etching in marble, "Federal Building," resides above the front door, and there's a snorkel mailbox in front. Aside from that and a cornerstone concealed by bushes at the left corner of the building, you'd barely know what this building is.

Sparta, GA: Yvonne Ingram-Ephraim Post Office Building
Yvonne Ingram-Ephraim Post Office Building

Sparta Federal Building: 1962 John F. Kennedy cornerstone

Long-time readers of this blog might know I'm really not a fan of cookie-cutter '60s federal buildings, but Sparta's and Milledgeville's were a bit different. First, they assimilate some vernacular architecture stylings from the romantic Deep South. Second, they actually have artwork inside, a throwback to FDR's New Deal and my favorite era of postal architecture, the grand buildings from the early 20th century. Also, nice black marble!

Sparta, GA Federal Building mural

Milledgeville, GA: United States Post Office and Federal Building

Milledgeville Federal Building: 1960 Dwight D. Eisenhower cornerstone

Milledgeville, GA Federal Building murals

The old post office building in Milledgeville was built during the early 20th century, and now houses the local Chamber of Commerce.

Milledgeville, GA: old post office
Old Milledgeville post office