Letter Carriers Building

Front of Letter Carriers Building Before 1992 Remodel

Links to NALC and International Labor History
Links to Seattle Mail and Local Labor History

National Association of Letter Carriers

Branch 79

On December 14, 1890, a group of less than ten carriers organized Seattle Branch 79, NALC.

-Branch 79 By-Laws

Postcard of the Old Seattle Main Post Office, 1908 

The current Post Office building replaced a grand Beaux Arts inspired building that had housed the Post Office since 1908. Constructed between 1903 and 1908, this massive sandstone structure, complete with elaborate Corinthian columns, ornate cornice, and monumental entry steps, was the first formal and permanent home of the United States Post Office. Its design and construction were indicative of Seattle's rapidly expanding populous and geographic size during that era. At the time of its construction, this site was a distance from other civic or government-related buildings still clustered near Yesler Way. The building originally housed other federal offices, including facilities for the United States Federal Court and the Department of Customs. During this era the commercial district was rapidly expanding northward, thus choice of the central downtown location - on a portion of the former University Grounds donated by the University regents - anticipated the future expanded commercial core. However, soon after its completion the building was found to be too small; thus, the federal courts and customs offices were moved elsewhere and the Post Office took over the entire building. The original plan for the Post Office did not include its grand entry steps. Thus, late in the construction process in 1907, as Third Avenue was regraded four feet, the addition of the steps in order to connect the entrance to the sidewalk below became necessary. These wide steps projecting into the sidewalk space became a kind of front porch to the city, serving as an impromptu meeting place and one of the city's most active and comfortable places to linger. 

Mailster, 1950's-60's

In 1954, Cushman Corporation revealed a four-wheel prototype of its mailster for testing in Miami, FL. Ultimately, the US Postal Service settled on an endearing if dangerous three-wheeled version and ordered more than 30,000 of them from four manufacturers to put city carriers on wheels. Mailsters remained in use through the 1960's.

In the first photo, a proud Seattle Letter Carrier shows off his mailster. The second image, from USPS' 1966 mailster training manual, illustrates one of the more dangerous aspects of operating a mailster.

-courtesy of NALC Postal Record's "Mail through the Millennia, part 2"