Postal service in the United States is older than the country itself. The idea of an organized way to move mail originated in 1774 as a method to get around the nosy colonial inspectors of the British-run postal service during the struggle for American independence. (Today the USPS is one of the big businesses run by the US government.)
In 1775, multipotentialite Founding Father Benjamin Franklin became the first postmaster general, and his eponymous post office on Philadelphia’s Market Street, part of Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, still offers limited service as a tourist novelty: Postcards sent from there are marked with Postmaster Benjamin Franklin’s cancellation stamp.
One of the country’s oldest full-service post offices that still operates in its original building is located on Main Street in Hinsdale, in southeastern New Hampshire, dating back to 1816. But it’s not the oldest post office in New Hampshire – that one is located in the port city of Portsmouth. (Today, these are the states with the most post offices per person.)
Very few of the country’s oldest post offices still occupy their original premises, even though some of those buildings still stand. For example, Washington D.C.’s Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue – an example of 19th-century Romanesque Revival architecture that’s on the National Register of Historic Places – operated as a post office only until 1914. In 2016, it was transformed into the Trump International Hotel – though a few months ago, the Trump Organization bowed out and it’s now a Waldorf Astoria.
The oldest U.S. post offices can be put into two historical categories: first, the period during and shortly after the country’s independence up to 1804, and second, the westward expansionary period of the 19th century, mostly between 1820 and 1867.
24/7 Wall St. used the Postmaster Finder database produced by the USPS to find each state’s first U.S. Post Office within present-day boundaries of the 50 states. The appointment date of the first Postmaster is generally considered to be the establishment date of an office. Where Post Offices originally operated under the authority of another nation — in Hawaii, Vermont, and the original 13 states — the establishment date represents when the U.S. assumed control of the postal system.
The oldest surviving post offices, dating back as far as 1775, are located in the original 13 British colonies, which later became 14 states and the District of Columbia. With the exception of locations in Louisiana and Missouri, are all located east of the Mississippi River. The newest of the second group of post offices is located way out west, in Hawaii. It was established in 1900.
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