News & Research

The Lost Genius of the Postal Service


In 1897, a year when mail was still largely delivered by horse and wagon, construction began on an innovative scheme beneath the streets of Philadelphia. Using an intricate network of compressors and metal pipes, the new system could shoot a capsule holding a few hundred letters across a city in several minutes, far faster than a postman could get it there—a speed that matched the increasing velocity of American commerce. The investor in this new technology wasn’t some kind of delivery startup, the FedEx or UPS of its day. It was the U.S. Post Office.

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