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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • LAKE GARDA, ITALY

D.P.O.: 1902

D.P.O.: 1902

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1902. "Post Office." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

A Twin in DC

This looks almost exactly like the Old Post Office Building in Washington, DC -- which is still standing thankfully. Must have been a popular design.

Premature demise

How tragic that a building this glorious and grand only had a lifespan of 33 years. I'm sure most of its builders were still living at the time it came down. How depressing that must have been for them.

Do we see antennas on buildings to the right?

Also, DetroitDave, what is that mast on the right of your photo?

Thank you.
RWG Denver, CO.

[Follow the link and find out! The other thing might be a wireless mast. - Dave]

1897-1931

The post office was eventually incorporated into a larger overall "Federal Building" that occupied the entire city block. Then that was torn down in 1931 and replaced by an even bigger Federal Building, with the post office relocating to Fort Street. An elaborate marble courtroom was saved and re-used in the new building, which still stands today.

http://buildingsofdetroit.com/places/post

The Secret Stair

This building didn't just house the post office for Detroit, but it was the federal building for the area. Federal courts were inside, and it even had a dark, narrow secret staircase going from the court room to an attic. It was used as a space where juries could deliberate without being harassed by the media. Witnesses could also be ferried up the stairs to the jury secretly.

Alas, the building was built at the wrong time. By the time it was completed in 1897, it already needed an expansion. Detroit's population was booming. By 1930 when it was demolished, Detroit's population had increased more than 650% since 1897.

Today, the giant Theodore Levin Federal Building sits on that space. You might've heard it in the news as the place where the attempted Christmas plane bomber is being tried.

Seeing double

When I saw this, I was struck by the similarities to many other buildings of the era, and Toronto's old City Hall in particular. The architect for Toronto's building was E. J. Lennox - anyone know if its the same architect who did Detroit's old post office?

Elsewhere on Shorpy

Another photo, and more on the building's history:

http://www.shorpy.com/node/6838

Multi Tasker

Not to underplay the important role of the old Post Office system, but this wonderful rock pile wasn't devoted only to processing mail. It also housed a federal courthouse, custom house, and other governmental functions.

Ooops

Looks like multiple someones spilled multiple somethings on the street.

Now THAT'S a Post Office

Isn't it a shame they don't build Post Offices like that anymore? Today they're more likely to be in a bay of a strip mall. On the other hand, I suppose the 2010 version of this sort of building would be Google Headquarters.

Overhead

The flag of the U.S. Customs Service.

A real palace

Back when mail service was a vital part of civic, commercial and private life. Postal mail of course not so important now.

Wow

What an incredible building! I remember seeing regal buildings like this when I was a child in the early 50's. I'll bet the few that were left by then are all long gone now. Our loss. Love you Shorpy.

Out, Damn'd Spot!

By now I've seen enough circa 1900 urban images on Shorpy, I can conjure them at will: Start with some vast public edifice (post office, hotel, library) that looks like a quarried wedding cake iced by an army of Italian stonemasons, throw in a cat's cradle of cables overhead (telephone, telegraph, streetcar wires), season with trolley tracks, then douse liberally with No. 1 and No. 2. Throw in a white-suited street cleaner furiously scrubbing at same. Voila!

Pre Motor-City

Not a motor car in sight in the town once referred to in some circles as the "Paris of the North".

The City was once a stunningly beautiful urban space. Now it seems that the up-and-coming product from within the city limits will be produce grown on vacant lots. Sharecropping and truck farming may well be the future of the Motor City.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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