9. The Seals in the Ceiling of James A. Farley Post Office

One of the lesser-known and more surprising details of the Farley Post Office is on the ceiling of its main atrium. If you take a moment to look up, you may be surprised to find that it is adorned with the official seals of ten countries including France, Germany and England, in addition to the United States.

The insignias represent ten countries that were one of the first members of the universal postal union at the time of the construction. This administrative body is now under the purview of the United Nations and works on shipping policies between countries around the world.

The United States seal is centered in the atrium, surrounded by those of England and Germany. The English seal contains the French phrase, “Dieu et Mon Doit” meaning “God and my right.” The German seal became a topic of controversy when the United States entered World War I four years after the opening of the Farley Post Office, with groups requesting a removal. The German seal shows the coat of arms under Francis II, of Francis I of Austria, from the early 1800s. Other countries include the R.F. for France (which stands for République Française), Switzerland, Belgium (with the French words “L’Union Fait la Force”  (meaning Strength with Unity), the Netherlands (Je Maintiendrai, meaning “I will maintain.” Read more about the seals here.

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