Sunday, May 15, 2011

National Air Mail Week Starts Today!

Get ready! Transcontinental mailing has changed over the years, but in 1938, it was just 20 years old, and May 15th marked the start of Air Mail Week. [I'm going to spell it 'Airmail' from here on out. Over the years the two words gave birth to the current compound word, sort of like to-day versus today, or good-bye / goodbye, though I don't think airmail ever had a hyphen . . .]

ANYWAY, the  The week-long festivities from May 15-21 were planned to help bring air transport companies out of an economic slump, caused in large part by the Great Depression. The goal was to get everyone to send and/or receive at least one piece of transcontinental mail.

Here are some New Yorkers doing just that, in the Farley General Post Office, during Airmail Week. I love the a-frame sign in front of the teller windows. It reminds me science projects, or history presentations on countries or civilizations of the world that you'd do in fifth grade. Mine was on the Phoenecians.

Photograph of main post office building, New York City

The Farley building's namesake James A. Farley, was appointed 53rd Postmaster General, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. He served from 1933 until 1940. He was instrumental in the 1934 addition of the post office's western annex.

To promote and celebrate Airmail Week, the USPS issued a new 6 cent stamp, with a patriotic color scheme and (of course) an eagle. A fierce-looking red one.

Not to be confused with this fierce eagle


National Airmail Week is no longer celebrated with such fervor, but in 2008, to commemorate 90 years of flying in the U.S. Postal system, three pilots in vintage planes retraced the same inaugural route used on May 15, 1918. They successfully completed the journey, chronicled  here by Air & Space magazine.

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