When Mail Was Miraculous

Wayne Curtis looks at how our feelings about the postal service have changed over time:

As recently as a century ago, the conveyance of information was still considered a fairly heroic human endeavor. Temples were built to honor the carriers, and post offices occupied grandly columned structures on squares and village greens. (For the past half-century, new post offices tend to be unedifying, vinyl-sided boxes built at the edge of town, as if they were embarrassments best kept from sight.)

The grandest temple was arguably the James Farley Post Office in midtown Manhattan, built in 1912 and designed by McKim, Mead and White. It’s the one inscribed with a heroic quote adapted from Herodotus’s description of Persian Empire couriers: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” It could be a slogan of the Justice League, or any other comic book confederation. Postmen were our superheroes.

Previous Dish on the post office here and here.