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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,
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