By the 1850s, adhesive postage stamps were available, and people no longer needed to go to the post office to mail letters. They could keep stamps at home and mail letters at their leisure. So the Post Office Department began to build and install mailboxes throughout U.S. cities.
Narrator: The first city mailboxes were small metal containers that held hardly any mail.
Postmasters complained that they had to be emptied several times a day.
So mailboxes were made bigger but mail volume got even bigger.
The boxes still had to be emptied up to three times a day.
The street corner mailbox became a fixture of inner-city mail transportation.
Wagon, car, truck, and even streetcar routes were organized around picking up mail from city mailboxes in order to keep up with the increasing amount of mail deposited in them.