In 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) identified a list of 3,700 post offices that may need to be closed or sold to stave off a massive deficit. Many of the post offices are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are prime examples of WPA-era Art Deco or Neo-Classical civic architecture. A lack of transparency from the USPS regarding these real estate measures has a created an unlikely coalition of angry constituents ranging from preservations, elected officials, residents and academics.
The website, Save the Post Office documents the historic post offices in America that are up for sale and the plight of the postal service as a government agency. The site is run by Steve Hutkins, an NYU literature professor. His role documenting the post offices has become high-profile partially because the USPS simply hasn’t released a list of locations for sale, or any that will be closed soon. Hutkins tells Untapped,
[The USPS] simply refers journalists to the CBRE-USPS website, which lists a few but not all. Many are being reviewed for sale and not formally for sale yet, and sometimes they don’t put the office on the website at all.
Similarly, our contact at the National Trust for Historic Preservation told us, “We have been unable to get a comprehensive list from the USPS of post offices that are for sale.” Luckily, Hutkins has created his own list based on news items available to the public here. This is only a list of those listed on the National Register.
There are at five post offices at risk in New York City.
217 W. 18th Street
The 1939 Colonial Revival building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is up for sale. According to Hutkins, “a letter about the pending relocation was discovered pinned to the post office’s wall by an alert patron, who notified the media…Congressman Jerrold Nadler, in whose district the post office is located, was not pleased about the notification process. ‘We should not learn of an impending sale and closure only through a letter to the state agency on Historic Preservation,; he said in a statement.”
Grand Concourse in the Bronx
Image via The New York Times
This 1930 building located 7 blocks from Yankee Stadium is also listed on the National Register. The building contains murals by Ben Shahn, who worked with Diego Riviera. Another post office location will be found for the constituents, and the building possibly repurposed for retail. Ironically, Shahn said of his work in the post office, ““My idea was to show the people of the Bronx something about America outside New York.”
Tito Puento Station in East Harlem
Image via Save the Post Office
This station is also known as the Triborough Station, and like the community at the 18th Street Post Office, residents learned of its sale via a taped piece of paper to the post office door.
Two other stations potentially closing (which the USPS leases) are the Washington Bridge Station and Peter Stuyvesant Station on 14th Street. In the New York City region, the main office in Newark is also under review for possible sale.
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.