These places certainly take your mail and mail it.
It’s no secret that the USPS is in mortal danger, courtesy of both financial strains and the actions of the current administration. It’s now more important than ever to shine a light on our postal service–it’s an imperative service that will allow citizens to safely cast their ballots this November in the midst of a crippling pandemic. And that reminds me: Request your mail-in ballots now if you haven’t already. Please vote. Support the USPS. Also, look at these unique post offices that have existed and/or still stand (one of them even floats).
Ochopee Post Office
WHERE: Ochopee, Florida
This is the country’s smallest post office, which, naturally, also makes it one of the cutest. Previously a glorified storage unit for tools that were used on a nearby tomato farm, the building was officially designated as a Post Office in 1953 when the town’s previous post office was ruined in a fire. Located at the intersection of US 41 and State Road 29, the Ochopee Post Office serves three counties.
Supai Post Office
WHERE: Supai, Arizona
Amazingly, the mail is carried by mule brigade to-and-fro this post office, which is near the base of the Grand Canyon (it can also be accessed by foot if you so please) six days a week. Well, I guess that makes sense considering its remote location—the mules take roughly three hours to move the out-going mail where it needs to go (to the Peach Springs, Arizona Post Office), and another five hours to make it back up the trail. But, it is 2020, so the fact that this process is indeed still in effect is, in my book, impressive as heck. The post office is located in a village that is home to the Havasupai Nation, a Native American tribe.
Valentine Post Office
WHERE: Valentine, Texas
What makes this American establishment a unique one on this list is its name (and, perhaps, its name alone): Valentine. BUT! Who wouldn’t want to send a little something special from here every February 14?! The distinctive process is as follows: insert your message (whatever that may be) into an envelope, address it, and add a stamp. Afterward, insert that envelope into a bigger one and send it to the Valentine Post Office. Each year, the office has a unique design it posts the love letters with; the design is chosen among a number of submissions from students in the Valentine school district. In 2018, the Valentine post office “saw over 12,000 love letters come through,” according to a local Texas news station.
James A. Farley Post Office
WHERE: New York City
Spanning two blocks and standing at over 400,000 square feet, this one’s a big boy! In fact, it was once the biggest U.S. Postal Service building in the entire country. Now, it’s a mixed-use space and a lot of it is set to be acquired by Facebook—who signed a lease recently—where it will be turned into office space. Sigh. Never forget the impact of the words on its façade, though: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Texarkana Post Office
This particular post office is so intriguing because the building itself is split by the state line (Arkansas on one side, Texas on the other)—it’s the only post office of its kind, in fact. Nods to this are featured in the office’s decor, as well, and the building even has two courtrooms. Yep, you guessed it: one designated for Texas and the other designated for Arkansas.
Hoolehua Post Office
WHERE: Molokai, Hawaii
You can famously decorate and mail a coconut from here, courtesy of the establishment’s “Post-a-Nut” program, which debuted in 1991. The program has especially been helpful as a tool to curtail financial woes in recent years. Postmaster Gary Lam says the location sends out more than 3,000 coconuts a year and they make up 40% of the location’s revenue.
J.W. Westcott II
WHERE: Detroit, Michigan
This post office on the water may only deliver mail to other ships, but that doesn’t make it any less cool because…it’s a post office on the water! Members of any ships that are passing through or patrolling the Detroit River can receive mail via the J.W. Westcott II, which was commissioned in 1949. Doubling down on its uniqueness, the boat uses the “mail-in-the-pail” delivery system (a bucket is lowered, mail is dropped into the bucket, and the bucket is hoisted back up onto the ship receiving the mail).
The Old Post Office
Unfortunately, it’s a rarity to call a post office an architectural marvel, but this palatial (former) one deserves such praise, with its sleek art-deco design. While it is no longer officially a post office (and has undergone massive renovations in recent years), it’s also worth mentioning that the building’s roof was initially designed so that aircraft (carrying mail) could land on it, but the idea never got off of the ground.
Fun fact: The Old Post office can be seen in 2004’s Batman Begins.
Washington Park and Zoo Railway
WHERE: Portland, Oregon
What about a post office that acts as a post office but isn’t a post office in the conventional sense? Wait, what? This “post office” is part of a train that runs a two-mile route between the Oregon Zoo and the World Forestry Center. The railway opened to the public in 1958 and was one of the first to have its own postmark. Today, it still carries and processes mail.
The (Now-Nixed) 'Coolest Post Office in America'
WHERE: Tieton, Washington
OK, so one could argue that this post office is, as it stands, fairly unremarkable. But! It was almost much, much more. In 2015, a Kickstarter effort that sought to redesign the building (using mosaic pieces) to look like an actual postal stamp was pushed heavily—The Tieton Stamp Mosaic Project, inspired by subway art in NYC. Though the financial backing was acquired and an endorsement from the town’s postmaster was given, the mission was canceled when word got to the U.S. National Postal Service’s headquarters. According to reports, “the Tieton postmaster did not have the authority to approve the mosaic tile façade,” and the Postal Service’s Vice President of Facilities claimed that the Postal Service is not interested in accepting gifts that alter its structures.