Tag Archives: Pneumatic Tubes

New York Of The Future As Imagined In 1939

1939 Architects Visualize How New York Would Look In 1950

New York of the future in 1950 as imagined in 1939

Over the years there have been many people who have tried to predict what New York City would look like in the future.

The architects who came up with this vision of Manhattan were way off. Considering that this drawing was made in 1939 and was showing what the city would look like only eleven years later, it is wildly inaccurate. That may be attributed in part to World War II which disrupted almost all building plans.  The artist is V. Hagopian.

Here is the partial text that accompanied the release of this drawing in 1939.

Here’s the New York City of 1950, as prepared by the architects for their great Exposition of Architecture and the Allied Arts which opens April 15th and published today for the first time. And its not a stretch of the imagination at that, for almost every detail of the picture, though not so extensive a scale, can be found in New York today, even including upper terraces on which people may walk.

Starting at the bottom: All freight, trucks and subways will proceed underground. Pneumatic tubes will carry first-class mail at high speed as now, but will be extended to airplane landing stations over the Hudson River piers, and mail after passing through the post office, will be shot at great speed through pneumatic mail tubes leading into office buildings. Street at ground levels will accommodate passenger and other lighter type automobiles.

Elevated sidewalks even with the second story level in the buildings and crossing above the streets at intersections will forever remove the streets from our midst.

First Pneumatic Mail Delivery In New York 1897

The Pneumatic Mail Tubes And The “Age of Speed”

Pneumatic Tubes Produce Exchange Post Office 1897

Reading Howard Wallace Connelly’s highly entertaining 1931 autobiography Fifty-Six Years In The New York Post Office–  A Human Interest Story of Real Happenings in the Postal Service (self-published) the following anecdote begins Chapter VI:

When the pneumatic tubes were installed at the General Post Office, October 7, 1897, we Supervisors were given a fine treat after the ceremonies were over. A rough hastily constructed row of steps (circus show style) had been erected facing the tubes. Senator Chauncey M. Depew was Master of Ceremonies. Probably over a hundred friends and Post Office officials were spectators. The first tube contained only a large artificial peach. The roar of laughter that greeted it was heartily joined by the Senator. A Bowery audience that had attended a political meeting at which he was the principal speaker, instead of trying to break up the show, took quite a liking to the speaker and a loud voiced man yelled, “Chauncey, you’re a peach.” Hence the laugh when the first tube arrived. From the second tube, a cat was taken. How it could live after being shot at terrific speed from Station P in the Produce Exchange Building, making several turns before reaching Broadway and Park Row, I cannot conceive, but it did. It seemed to be dazed for a minute or two but started to run and was quickly secured and placed in a basket that had been provided for that purpose.  A suit of clothes was the third arrival and then came letters, papers, and other ordinary mail matter.

Hah-ha very funny. The postal officials must have had a ball putting a cat into the tubes. Can you imagine the public outcry if something like that was done now?

Connelly omits that the first parcel actually sent through the tubes was sent by Depew to the Produce Exchange Post Office which included Continue reading