Monday, November 28, 2011

Grant Street Post Office Closing?

The U.S. Postal Service has scheduled a public meeting to "discuss plans for the Grant Street Station Post Office" on Tuesday Afternoon, November 29, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. EST in the offices of CB Richard Ellis, in Suite 1400 of the U.S. Steel Building in Downtown Pittsburgh. Apparently, postal authorities plan to abandon the present Grant Street Post Office location in Pittsburgh's historic U.S. Post Office and Courts Building, for a downsized post office elsewhere downtown.

Last week I found the following announcement posted to the entrance doors of the Grant Street Post Office Downtown, at Seventh Avenue and Grant Street:

United States Postal Service

You are invited to attend a
Public Meeting
November 29th, 2011
from 4:00 PM
at the
offices of CB Richard Ellis
US Steel Building
600 Grant Street Suite 1400
at which time representatives of the
United States Postal Service will
discuss plans for the
Grant Street Station
Post Office

Considering the meeting place is the office of a real estate development firm, it seems that the U.S. Postal Service does plan to downsize and relocate the Grant Street Post Office, out of the historic U.S. Post Office and Courts Building, to another location downtown.

Similar relocations, from historic downtown main post offices, have occurred in other major cities including Washington DC, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Chicago (More on Philadelphia relocation: ),

In those cities, the original, classic post office lobby was retained and reused. In Pittsburgh, the original, classic post office lobby is long-gone, having been gutted and "modernized" in the 1970s.

The 1970s "modernization" reconfigured the lobby and reduced its size. Before the lobby reconfiguration, a second major lobby entrance existed via a marble staircase from the south Grant Street entrance to the building. Following the reconfiguration, the Seventh Avenue entrance became the only major entrance.

For a time, people could access the postal lobby by elevator, from the south Grant Street entrance. However, with increased security enhancements for the courthouse section of the building, this elevator access is no longer permitted to the public.

This type of relocation is nothing new for small town post offices. Three years ago, the U.S. Postal Service abandoned a historic, 1916 post office building in the Borough of Carnegie, moving the Carnegie Post Office to a small storefront facility a half-block away!

I have rented a post office box (P.O. Box 1041) at the Grant Street Post Office Station for more than 20 years.

When I first rented the box in 1988, there were two mail deliveries (at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.) to this post office box each weekday. The Postal Service had tried to cut this to one delivery per day in the late 1970s; apparently businesses complained and twice-a-weekday delivery was restored soon after. However, within a couple years after I started renting the post office box, delivery became once-a-day (12:00 Noon), permanently.

Since the 1934 opening of the Grant Street Post Office, the postal lobby had been open to the public 24/7/365 up until the opening of the General Mail Facility on California Avenue, North Side, in 1983. From then on, the Grant Street Post Office lobby has closed each weekday evening at 6:00 p.m.

Construction of the General Mail Facility was delayed about 10 years, after the 1970 bankruptcy of the Penn-Central Railroad. Previously,  Penn-Central had planned a huge redevelopment of the company's Strip District properties into a commercial, office, and residential complex that was called Penn Park. The Post Office had planned to build the General Mail Facility as part of the Penn Park development, on 25th Street between Liberty and Penn Avenues. With this property now part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the Post Office decided to construct the new facility on a North Side site.

This public meeting is not a meeting where the U.S. Postal Service is asking the opinions of the public. It is a meeting where they are telling the public what they have already decided to do. This is similar to a public meeting I attended in 2003, when Carnegie Library told Hazelwood residents they were going to close their historic, 1900 library building, in favor of a downsized rental facility:


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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