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On a puff of air

The Stamp Collecting Report, I'm Lloyd de Vries

Making deliveries in a city has always been tough. Well, once, mail traveled UNDER some 
city streets, in a pneumatic tube.

"Think of the drive-up window at the bank. This is a tube, a canister that is propelled 
by compressed air." :07

The Post Office used canisters the size of artillery shells to carry mail from trains 
to sorting facilities. David Straight is a well-known postal historian.

"In New York City, they had about 20 miles of tube. It went all the way around the 
island of Manhattan, and a branch went across the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn." :08

In the U-S, pneumatic mail started in Philadelphia in the 1890s, and, with a break for 
World War One, continued into the 1950s. 

Why did it stop?

"Because Secretary of Defense Charlie Wilson convinced them that what was good for 
General Motors was good for the USA, and they should buy a bunch of GM trucks."  :09

Wilson had been C-E-O of General Motors. 

In Europe, pneumatic mail was a premium express service that lasted until 1984.

"This was a way to get a message across the city and get a reply back in a reasonable 
amount of time. So the messages tended to be short. "Meet me for dinner," "You have a 
business appointment," these shorts of things, because this was the fastest way to 
get a message across town and get a reply back when people didn't have Blackberry, 
cell phone, text, the things that we have today. And I think that was what put an end 
to it in the European systems, was telecommunications." :27

I'm Lloyd de Vries of the Virtual Stamp Club. For more on stamps and stamp collecting, 
visit virtual-stamp-club-dot-com.  

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