Saturday, December 26, 2015

Postal Tour: Hoboken, NJ

Ah, Hoboken. In addition to being the worst-selling version of Barbie's beau in history (Hobo Ken), Hoboken is a bustling city that lies just across the river from lower Midtown Manhattan. The city is one of the densest in the country, with approximately 53,000 people crammed in its 1.28-square-mile land area (about 65 people per acre). The density of the city's post offices reflects its population: Hoboken houses a main post office, three classified (USPS-staffed) postal stations, and one Contract Postal Unit. No post office lies further than 0.7 miles from its nearest neighbor.

Here's an aerial view of the southern two-thirds of the city, with its post offices highlighted.
(Photo: D. Ramey Logan.)

Aerial view of Hoboken with post offices

And here's a map!

Hoboken Post Office Map

Hoboken's main post office, dedicated May 16, 2003 as the Frank Sinatra Post Office Building, was constructed during the early 1930s. This is not a New Deal post office, as it was constructed in 1931. All of Hoboken is covered by the 07030 ZIP code, and the author believes that all carriers for the city are based here. Address: 89 River St.

Hoboken Main Post Office

Hoboken Main Post Office

The land housing the 33,000-square-foot building has been owned by the U.S. since the late 1800s; Hoboken's former post office occupied the same plot of land as does its 1930s contemporary. The Hoboken Historical Museum has multiple great images of this old building, including this one, reproduced here:

Hoboken's three USPS-staffed (classified) post offices: Washington Street Station, Uptown Station, and West Side Station, are each small retail spaces, measuring 803, 1,101, and 1,018 square feet, respectively. Each has its own postmark / hand-cancellation.

Hoboken, NJ: Washington Street Station (734 Washington St.; since 1946)

Hoboken, NJ: Uptown Station (57 14th St.; since 1957)

Hoboken, NJ: West Side Station (502 Grand St.; since 1982)

(Did you notice the ADA handicapped lift to the left there?)

This brings us to the Castle Point Contract Postal Unit (CPU) at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a campus atop a palisade with lovely views of New York. The CPU is located on the first floor of the Wesley J. Howe Center. It's by the entrance at the right side of this photo:

Wesley J. Howe Center

The postal window is at the end of a corridor surrounded by banks of P.O. Boxes.

Here's the view from back outside:

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Hammond, Montana

In the Big Sky plains of southeastern Montana lie several post offices along a lonely artery: U.S. 212, which winds its way through hundreds of miles of rural landscape from the Little Bighorn Battlefield along I-90 through to Minneapolis, by way of Wyoming and the entire width of South Dakota. Along the 60-mile stretch of the road in Montana southeast of the town of Broadus, a county seat, lie three post offices: Boyes, Hammond, and Arzada. When I say post offices lie along the road I don't mean that you'll see towns; you may see three or four buildings along a road, one of which is a functioning post office. The speed limit doesn't even drop at these points. Blink and you will miss them.

This is not to say that these post offices are not worthwhile; au contraire, they serve ranchers living miles away along dirt back roads. This is why these post offices tend to be found at intersections of U.S. 212 with what would seem to be dusty trails to nowhere. Hammond's is found between Crow Creek Road and S Rd. Here's a map of the community:

Hammond, MT annotated map

Since there are no addresses in the community, USPS's Leased Facility Report states a rather unusual address for the post office: "S OF HIGHWAY 212". To be fair, this is actually the only structure on the south side of Highway 212 in Hammond. The post office was purpose-built (date unknown; missing from USPS Leased Facilities Report) on a 10,000-square-foot plot owned by a local landowner (address: a P.O. box) for the modest sum of $1,825 per year.

The Hammond and Boyes post offices are oddities: due to the fact that either a) their workload surpasses four hours a day or b) they happen to be far enough away from the nearest larger post office, each now rates as a six-hour facility under USPS's POStPlan. While thousands of post offices have had their hours reduced across the country, these two post office actually increased from four-hour-a-day to six-hour-a-day operations!

The design of the post office building itself is standard for a class of generic small post office buildings constructed several years back before the Big Sky District of USPS had been consolidated into the Dakotas District. Standard size, standard layout, standard colors, standard signage. Sadly, this means that the remote post offices in this corner of the country are not the most photogenic.

Hammond, MT post office

However, look across the street (i.e., to the north side of Highway 212) and you will see what I love to find: the former site of the post office, uninhabited but authentic through and through.

Former post office, Hammond, MT