You’ve Got Mail

Postal workers had their hands full in the early century, with 796 cities served and only the rails to deliver.

Today, last-minute holiday shopping is a cinch, with services like FedEx, UPS, and Google Express. But a century ago, the best-case scenario was four days from New York to San Francisco.

Carriers, like the ones shown (photo dated between 1910 and 1915), did not deliver packages until 1913—and even then, “not exceeding 11 pounds in weight, nor greater in size than 72 inches in length and girth combined,” according to the USPS. Before mail slots were required in 1923, postal workers waited by doors till they could hand deliver an envelope.

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