US Mailboxes – Where Did They Go?
US Mailbox

Mailboxes are almost as American as Chevrolet and apple pie. Yet, in a world full of text and email messages, it’s easy to forget how novel it was to have mail delivered to your home each day. That said, have you ever stopped and thought about where US mailboxes came from and why some of them have disappeared?

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Free City Delivery Services

The Post Office began offering Free City Delivery Services in 1863 and was an instant success. Residents enjoyed no longer needing to plan trips to town to send or receive mail. However, since the delivery service was new, the USPS did not immediately require people to have receptacles or mailboxes to receive the mail. In these times, carriers would knock on the door or ring the bell and wait for the resident to answer. If they received no response, the mail would be left outside, exposed to the elements.

US Mailbox

Like anything else, manufacturing companies began to realize that this presented them with a profitable opportunity to solve this issue. Soon, mailboxes were available in different sizes, shapes, and designs, with little to no uniformity. Those who couldn’t afford a mailbox could fashion one out of anything from crates and old cans to food cartons. As you can imagine, this led to an unsightly display of mismatched repositories.

US Mailboxes

USPS Introduces the Mailbox

The postal service realized the need to fix this situation in 1903 when they appointed a five-person commission to investigate mailboxes. They were unsatisfied with every available design, and ultimately the Post Office Department designed its own version of a mailbox. In 1915, Roy Joroleman, a postal engineer, designed the tunnel-style box we know today.

Since then, USPS mailboxes have evolved to fit the changing needs of people. Today, you can find heavy-duty mailboxes, locking mailboxes, extra-large boxes, and more.

Video: Vintage US Mail Commercial

The Disappearance of the Blue Postal Boxes

Remember back in the early 2000s? It seemed like there was a large blue postal box installed at nearly every prominent street corner. Nationally, the number of these boxes has declined significantly over the years. In fact, some customers were left upset by this and complained that the USPS was removing too many of the boxes.

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This has proved to be a tricky balancing act for the USPS. Some blue collection boxes are rarely used, and they are expensive to maintain. Alternatively, these boxes represent the visual presence of the Postal Service in America, and people have noticed their disappearance. After all, they’re secure, reliable, and convenient places to put outgoing mail.

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So, why have these blue collection boxes disappeared? According to the Postal Service, their goal is to keep mail collection infrastructure proportionate with needs but at a reasonable price. Hence, they’ve removed any box that averages less than 25 pieces of mail per day. At the same time, they’ve added boxes to more popular areas for convenience.

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Ultimately, it’s sad to see the blue collection boxes disappear, but you can’t help but think – what’s next? The rise of technology and instant delivery mail types such as text and email leaves us with one question. How long until home mailboxes begin to disappear?

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